There are some moments which make you realize the power of perspective in how we see the world and these moment catch you at most unexpected of times.
A new computer science campus in under construction on campus. It is right next to the Newell Simon hall where my dept is situated currently. At the ground floor, there is a huge window which looks down upon the ditch where the new building is coming up.
Few days ago, I decided to eat my lunch sitting right next to the huge window looking at the beautiful scene outside what with all the snow covering almost everything. There were some big machines working in at the site. From where I was sitting, I could only see their front part and not the main cabin where the driver sits. They were moving soil and filling up some part of the ditch.
I looked at them for some time and after few minutes it was so easy to believe that they are some huge odd looking autonomous things working on their own. I have read a lot of science fiction in which machines do all sorts of wonderful things, gain a consciousness and even over take the world. Sitting there watching those big crude machines making short graceful movements, I could believe all of that.
But even more than a futuristic vision I felt like I had felt while reading the first part of Specimen Days where a child thinks that machines, big mean machines love their operators and try to grab them as soon as they get a chance. In that world, a old and unsophisticated world, humans and machines co exist in a sort of love hate relationship, not out to destroy one another but still coming to terms with each other, or rather humans coming to terms with machines. Once you start understanding that world, it looks very scary.
That day I felt like I got a glimpse into that world.