Continued from Part 3 - Risking It All

Once the risks of Internet-connectivity are eliminated, the personal computer can be reinvented to be deeply rewarding and empowering. A major departure, not another variation. By exploring reward in a newly trustworthy environment, this strange unconnectable computer takes shape.

Reward must be cranked up to eleven for a personal computer to offer the highest possible value, once the risk is dialed back to near zero. A single purpose is crucial; all unrewarding or risky options are to be cut away. Since we're reinventing the thing, it's more accurate to say they'll simply be excluded. Not implemented.

As a real-world example, top athletes have dedicated training facilities, funding to allow them to train full-time, and coaches and mentors to keep them out of trouble and direct their progress. These same athletes would achieve nothing of note if they held down jobs, had poor diets, partied excessively, or injured themselves while their competitors, even if inferior athletes, did not. Like with athletics, the key here is to be pointed in the right direction and focus all energy on taking steps in only that direction.

But what exactly might that direction be, you ask? I suppose it's not enough to say "personal reward" and "individual empowerment". Too abstract, right?

With risk gone, a richer relationship with our personal computers becomes possible. You might find it difficult to imagine the difference between a computer you fully trust and a computer you don't. But you already know the difference in your relationships between people you trust completely and those you trust less (or not at all). You're willing to share all sorts of intimate personal information with people you trust. Not so with others. You also understand that trust is both earned and verified, not assumed. With lower standards, you risk exposure of your intimate details and vulnerabilities, and you learned the consequences of that long ago.

You may also have some difficulty imagining a computer that is personally empowering rather than one that is not. A really great partner, friend, mentor, family member, team-mate, or other influence is one that empowers you in one way or another. Not in a way that gives you a little and then takes much more in return - you've probably been there, and that's not empowering. It's also definitely not empowering to be pushed into a limited role and a stunted identity, then kept there. Truly empowering people help you become a more effective person living a sustainable, valued, dynamic life. They connect you ever more deeply with both the reality of the world and the reality of your self, so that you may have a smoother ride through the madness of it all and even do some good along the way. Your potential is increased, not reduced, and you find yourself in a position to realize some of that potential.

This reinvented personal computer is to be trustworthy and empowering, focused exclusively on providing personal reward. Information is a key factor shared between trust and empowerment. Trust allows one to expose and receive better information - more complete, timely, and detailed. Empowerment shifts the distribution of information so that you gain quality information about your self, environment, and interests while reducing the quantity and quality of information that untrusted others hold about yourself and your interests.

So the nature of this different computer is to receive as much quality information about your actions and emotions - no matter how personal or initimate - as you can manage. This information is then processed and reflected in a way that you might hope from a trusted mentor or friend. But perhaps much better than that, as computers are wonderfully capable of processing huge quantities of information in a variety of ways. And a non-connectable computer, being no less secure than your home and personal effects, can be even more trustworthy, tolerant, and non-judgemental than any person.

If information is power, then you are empowered by having information about yourself. If information asymmetry is power, then you are empowered by having exclusive access to the highest quality of information about yourself. And if it then comes down to an ability to process that information, well, you'll have that too. You'll be able to leverage the tools and techniques that the big data warehouses, the ad networks, the machine learning outfits, the artificial intelligences, and who knows what else, use against you today. Except now these tools and techniques empower you rather than the other way around. That's about as rewarding as you can get.