Paarth Madan

A medium to iterate on my own thoughts.

The Human Operating System

Posted at — Apr 25, 2020

I just finished up with a course in Operating Systems, and it was perhaps one of my favourites. I didn’t absorb the material, or understand it at the depth I would’ve liked to, so I’m still actively learning.

One concept that is fairly prevalent when discussing operating systems is their interrupt-driven architecture.

An operating system is tasked with effectively managing a set of processes so they all can complete within their deadlines, and are scheduled in a way that respects their priority along with an array of various factors.

To ensure a single process doesn’t hog resources, there is usually the notion of a periodic interrupt that preempts the active process, and allows a routine to assess the circumstance and choose the next (and perhaps same) process to execute.

I enjoy connecting seemingly unrelated entities, so in this case I propose our body and mind are exactly like an operating system. The things we choose to do, are the processes that we schedule. Our body and mind dispatch periodic interrupts, with the goal of correctly distributing allocation of tasks, wellness and health.

Our body dispatches interrupts in many ways.

Our eyes hurting after too much strain on the computer, or a stiff neck and pain in your back for prolonged fixation of bad posture. Your stomach growls when it’s hungry, and your mind undergoes stress when it longs meditation. The sensation of pain of when in contact with heat.

These are all interrupts that our body expects to be handled in a specific way, but I propose some of our interrupt service routines are short-circuiting.

We void the need to reassess scheduling, and often fall into rabbit holes of many hours spent on single tasks, without asking or reassessing if it makes most sense.

Think of how many times you’ve been on your phone, and your neck starts hurting because you’re looking down for so long. That instant, where you realize your posture is bad, is when your interrupt service routine is running.

Your body is intelligent – self-healing.

It interrupts your study session by growling, to prompt a reassessment, with the goal of instead dispatching a process to eat.

Telling you it needs to realign it’s posture and do something else.

We often suppress these interrupts instead, and continue executing wasteful tasks with no preemption.

It’s important to listen for interrupts, and handle them gracefully.

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