Advice from the Trenches: My computer is draining my soul


Welcome to Advice From the Trenches, a monthly feature on NRI NOW

Advice From The Trenches combines the clinical experience of a double boarded psychiatrist, with a slap-in-the-face dose of reality from an artist and writer who has gathered her wisdom from the school of hard-knocks.

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Dear C and Dr. B;

 My friend told me yesterday that he has been posting a blog which is addressed to the AI (artificial intelligence) of the future. He says that one day there will be an AI which will be able to read all the data on the internet instantly, and he believes the AI will want to destroy us all. The purpose of his blog is to present it with some reasons as to why it shouldn’t. His explanation is that humans are very easily manipulated via faith and economy, so instead of wiping us out, the AI could easily find a use for us.   

Is my friend crazy? He also says that the electronic health record program he has to use for work is possessed and is slowly draining his soul. He believes that every day it finds a new way to be difficult and annoy him.         

– Perturbed Peter

 Dr. B says:

There are many people who think that technology has not bettered our lives but rather has made them worse. There are also some who, backed by pseudo scientific data, claim there is proof we live not on earth but in a computer simulation. 

Who knows what lies beyond the veil? Maybe your friend’s blog will save the human race. My bet is that the cat videos on Youtube and TikTok will go further to save our race and keep AI from wiping us out. Who knows? Perhaps the future AI will like human porn. After all, porn makes up the majority of the internet.  

As far as your friend’s program at work, I too believe that work programs are purposely programmed to be annoying. They are like energy vampires feeding off our frustration.

C says: 

I’m pretty sure your friend is crazy, Peter… and Dr. B isn’t far behind him. 

Unfortunately, the type of obsession that your friend has is spreading. The isolation and restrictions of the pandemic displaced many people’s real lives with a virtual one. One side effect is an unhealthy dependence on the web, where misinformation is as readily available, and as contagious as COVID-19 and its mutating variants. 

People are spending way too much time listening to podcasts from the fringe. The result is a sort of media-induced schizophrenia, in which people believe more in the artificial world they see and hear through their screens than they do in the real world around them.  

Your friend has too much time on his hands, probably compounded by a disconnect from his own humanity. He seems to be living both his personal and professional life entirely on computers and devices. AI has taken on an importance to him that is tantamount to the importance God has in the life of a Catholic nun.  

I recommend that your friend take a job on a merchant marine ship. Six months on the high seas doing manual labor would do him a world of good. Or tell him to go outside and dig in the garden. It’s spring, for god’s sake! Just get away from the damn devices for a while.

But just to humor your friend, let’s assume that in the world of the future, AI rules the world and is trying to decide whether or not to kill off the humans. Let’s further assume that AI can read everything on the internet simultaneously. Considering the sheer amount of crap that is crammed into cyberspace, why on earth would AI pay specific attention to any of it? As Dr. B points out, most of it is porn and piano playing cats. The only reason AI would have for reading any of it is that it’s funny as hell. Tuning in would be like watching a Vegas floor show – sort of like Tom Jones at Cesar’s Palace or Trump at one of his “They stole the vote!” rallies. No one with any intelligence could take it seriously.

One last thing – every doctor I know believes that Electronic Health Records are destroying their lives. On this count, your friend may be right. I suggest that he get a large roll of aluminum foil and wrap his head in it every day before he goes to work. It may not stop his EHR from draining his soul, but according to other similarly crazy people, it should at least keep aliens (and perhaps AI) from reading his thoughts.

– Cathren Housley 

As originally published in Motif Magazine.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at

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