I've determined that I'm not a geek. You may think it's strange that I'm getting a PhD in artificial intelligence and still don't consider myself a geek, but let me explain.

I like technology, but I'm not enamored with it. I don't have a laptop, and I have no real desire to get one so I can blog from Starbucks. I have a PDA, but it's several years old and the batteries aren't even charged. My cell phone is a three-year-old Nokia that doesn't have a color display or digital camera, and can't download ringtones. I did build my own computer, but I hate fiddling with it. I know very little about Linux, and have no desire to install it on anything: not my PC, not my Xbox, not my PS2, not my microwave.

I liked Blade Runner and Snow Crash, but thought they were both overrated. I haven't read Fark in months (too long), and I haven't read Slashdot in over a year. Not since I started getting into blogs, anyway. Oh yeah, I do have a blog, but I don't think that qualifies me as a geek just by itself.

I do know that there are only 10 types of people in the world: those who know binary and those who don't. I don't play first-person shooters anymore (although I did write Quake Superheroes, and I'm using the Q2 engine for my PhD work), and I haven't liked a real-time strategy game since Age of Empires 2. And I hardly played that.

I don't download music. I don't use IRC. I don't have a network of any kind set up in my house. I've only been to a couple of LAN parties, and I got bored pretty quick. I did use an exclusive-or in the title of a recent post, however.

So what am I? I'm an engineer. Now, some engineers are geeks, and some geeks are engineers, but they aren't equivalent. The geeks I know revel in technology, but many of them have no real desire to understand it or create anything of their own. The engineers that create the technology the geeks adore are probably geeks themselves, but not all engineers fiddle with gadgets and gizmos.

I haven't quite pinned it down yet, but I think of myself as a philosopher-engineer. That's why I got into artificial intelligence; I want to understand the human mind, language, culture -- the building blocks of humanity. I considered going into psychology, but after taking several psych classes (undergraduate and graduate level) I realized that it's a very soft science, if it's science at all. I want to quantify intelligence, but psychologists just want to hypothesize endlessly.

I respect geeks, and I know a lot of them, but it's just not who I am. Sure, the toys are fun, but to me they're only a tool for studying the deeper issues of existence, and not an end unto themselves.



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