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Lost Clusters

Lost Clusters published on
My first PC was a secondhand machine that came from a family friend who lived on a farm and smoked. It ran Windows 3.11 (for Workgroups!), the last version of Windows that had to be manually loaded from the MS-DOS command prompt. To start it, I would reach around to the back of the case and flip the switch, then watch the DOS readouts as the various pieces of hardware would conduct handshakes and decide whether or not they felt like working on that particular day. The most frequent boot error I’d get was one telling me some amount – usually a two-digit number – of “lost clusters” had been found, and asking me what I’d like to do about them. This was 1999 and we didn’t have internet at home, so I had no way of knowing what lost clusters were. Every time, I would opt to save them, not knowing if I would need them later. I never did, and in fact they probably were never accessible to me in any meaningful way. Here, I imagined what  might happen if someone was offered the same choice by a malfunctioning artificial intelligence.

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