On a black night in the early 1980s, a fierce scream congealed the darkness deep within MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The late-working engineer who went to investigate discovered Richard Stallman -- one of the nation's most brilliant programmers -- sitting in tears and screaming at his computer terminal, "How can you do this? How can you do this? How can you do this?" /1/
The image is no doubt provocative, revealing as it does a striking urge to personify the computer. And yet, perhaps we make too much of such occurrences. After all, the computer is hardly unique in this respect. Don't I curse the door that jams, implore my car's engine to start on an icy morning, and kick a malfunctioning TV with more than just mechanical intent? The fact is that we manifest a strong tendency to personify all the contrivances of our own devising. The computer simply takes its place among the numerous other objects to which, with a kind of animistic impulse, we attribute life.
This may be the point worth holding on to, however. Once we acknowledge our anthropomorphizing compulsions, we must immediately grant that the computer is ideally designed to provoke them. Whatever our considered, philosophical understanding of the computer and its intelligence, we also need to reckon with this "animistic" tendency -- at least we do if we seek self-knowledge, and if we would prevent our own subconscious impulses from infecting our philosophical inquiries.
Lacking any better term, I will call this wholly derivative intelligence of the computer its book value. However, the notion extends to other sorts of stored material in the computer besides text -- for example, voice recordings and video images. Just as a book displays "someone else's" intelligence and not its own, so also do the tape recorder and t