He is the patron saint of the internet and the likely saint of my present plight, I am hitting on the rocks of the injustice surrounding my assay into the world of artificial intelligence in an introductory programming course in college.
In the fall of 1981 I created a program which generated 2-paragraph essays on input poems. I was offered a studernt teaching class but I couldn’t do it because of my disability, already in force, I didn’t understand it then as I do now. I just knew I couldn’t stand up in front of a class and teach; so I opted for the Hutton Dove magazine presidency as a refuge. That was how the tapping on the door of my “problem” came about.
Years later I was in the state hospital and working out my place in quasi spiritual terms. I esploited the Dove presidency: it was awful what I did and I wish somebody could have reached me to stop me. I lowered myself to cut the toenails of my Puerto Rocan man friends toenails, for instance, thinking that that was somehow clever. This all came straight out of my father’s lexicon. I thought that sharing my body was somehow doing a favor to those men.
I call him Roberto. He and Jeannie, his true girlfriend, followed me in my mind out to California, and found me on a psych ward in Oceanside when I was down on my belly–pregnant–in four point restraints. Then when my son was born I was confused about who was the “true father” of my child, and this did not work well with Bill because he was deeply insecure about our relationship. “A beautiful baby for you for me” Roberto had said. “That’s impossible,” I said. “Nothing impossible,” Roberto said. My doctor in Maryland, when we moved there after Buffalo, said that no he was not in any way spirtitually or otherwise the child’s father. That helped.
Now I looked back at that self desecration and I blame my father but I also see how it captures my little computer programming project, a clever little piece of work. If I had only remembered to localize that darn little i it would have been better. The section leaders spent 3 hours, my section leader said, finding the bug so that the function that allowed it to work on any poem would work.
Later, when I saw sexual interactive programming I wanted to take back what i’d done, I saw the logic of my little program everywhere. I couldn’t claim it because I couldn’t offer an explanation of my disability that prevented me from going on to do more work like it or where else to go from there.
I contacted my section leader at his place of employment, a premier engineering consultancy firm in Watertown, where he worked with several other techys from my class at Hutton. I don’t know whether he was at any time serious about my being considered for employment there but I know he took a copy of the program, which he asked me to bring with me. They disappeared with it for about 15 minutes and came back with a brusque dismissal. I was very ill at that time. I got a one-line letter indicating that they did not have a place for me.
I couldn’t manage what I had created so it ran me instead, and the people who used the logic were using me. I was stuck in the vortex.
Now I’m finally free and this comes just in time because I am finally getting free of the college roommate, also a hi-tech brat and jetissonning my father–who does he think he is anyway? we all have our shit. I created a BASIC program on one of the first computers in schools back in 1978, and I knew what I was doing and that it was good and that I had mastery of it and that I wasn’t afraid and that it would take me somewhere. Yes I got that through my father, but it belongs to me. And all the quirky b.s. about me fades: hi-tech is brand new socially.
I am woman; hear me roar.