the ghost in the machine

As we wander through the abyss that is history, we all leave our mark. We all leave something behind on our journey to somewhere else. Be it a thought, a story, an object or just a whisper, we all influence history in one way or the other.

Once, there was a miner working in coalmine somwhere in the world. His work was hard and his life had little joys besides his family. From 6 til 8, every day, every week, for years, he worked in the mines. Breaking coal from stone from coal. His fingers gripping tools made by man, carving lumps of black rock that would someday fuel someones adventure or dream. As drops of sweat fell to the floor, as his coughing could be heard in the neigbouring tunnels, his very soul stayd behind in the cave. He left, he quit his job and never returned, but his soul, or at least a very tiny fraction of it, was always there. Somewhere in his heart, he was always there. As he left this world all that remained of him was lost to us, his face, his name and his thoughts forever lost in the void of the universe. But the tiny fraction of his soul that stayed behind in the mine, it lingers on, a spirit left behind in the created constructions of man. A ghost in the machine.

The factory worker working on the model T-Ford in 1908, his name and face is forgotten by all but a few remaining relatives, but his spirit and soul, wether he wish it or not, is forever imprinted on the work that he did on the black automobile. If he polished the headlights or was responsible for tuning the gearbox doesn’t really matter, something of him was stored in that machine for all eternity. For as the machine dies, the impact it left on history, and thus our factory worker, lingers on.

The SkunkWorks engineer working on the SR-71 Blackbird, his pencil drawings dictating where the wings should bend, and exactly at what angle the tail rudder should be placed. He is remembered more for his work than the factory worker, but still, his most important mark on history is the spirit he left behind in the great blackbird. And as long as the machine is remembered, the ghosts of those who built it will remain in our cognitive memory and intelligence.

Computer programmers in the number of hundreds worked on the system on which this text was written. Alon the way, the implanted bits of themselves into the system, unknowing, unwilling or deliberate, some minute parts of their creative intelligence lingers on in thousands of systems around the world. Tiny strings of code, random or by purpose, they form unwanted behaviour, they create new or just sit there idle, they are perhaps machine in essence, but created by soul, they will always remain ghosts of their creators.

As we cross ways with inventions, creations and impossibilities throughout our journey, we leave behind something of ourselves at every waypoint. Every time our energy is focused to creation, every time we pour our creativity into something, we leave something else behind. Unnoticable, minute pieces of our will, tiny fractions of our soul, whispers of our ideas, they stay behind and inhabit our creations. Giving them life and sometimes soul themselves. Thus, we are all creators of ghosts. Thus, all creations are ghosts.

a gHost in the machine?