Cogito Ergo Sum

I just spent a couple hours on a plane. Usually I will read, but this time I planned ahead and downloaded Super 8, the Steven Spielberg – J.J. Abrams sci-fi flick. Pretty good I thought. The unknown child actors in it were excellent. But it’s your usual monster flick with a touch of Steven’s E.T. alien apologist storyline to it. There was one part though that hit me from out of the blue. It was just one line. “I’m just doing the best I can to save you.” In the nanosecond it took my brain to here the line, I thought of six different things at once. My daughter, my wife, the monster, the characters, the planet, myself.

There was no separation, all these ideas hit my brain like a cascade of endorphins, like the the psychic link the monster in the movie has with anyone it touches, I understood all of these ideas instantly and simultaneously. That’s as best as I can explain it, it hit me right in the emotional solar plexus and stopped me in my tracks. I had to pause the movie just to let it sink in for a second. The mind is a fascinating thing and to make those kind of connections is electric and above my level of understanding. I don’t think we will ever know it completely, that is why I think that we can never make a machine that will have the same capacity to think like we do. I also don’t think machines will ever be inherently graceful. Not that they will always be bumbling trash cans, but I don’t think they will ever move like a dancer on their own. My wife has grace, just watching her pick up a glass of water makes me smile, if you have ever experienced grace you know what I am talking about. It isn’t something that can’t be programmed, it comes from inside and reflects who you are. Machines don’t know who they are, so how can they ever have grace?

We can replicate the mind down to the last neurone but there will always be one ingredient missing, one critical flaw that can only be developed through millions of years of evolution. Biology will always trump machinery. I’ve always wanted us to build a thinking, loving robot but I really don’t think it is in the cards.

Who knows what what the magic ingredient is, maybe the soul, maybe just millions of years of memories secretly stuck in our heads. The reptilian brain surfacing and making us act like the animals we are. When you’re jealous or being territorial, that is the reptilian brain. We do things we wouldn’t normally do if we took a second to think about it, but this is the trade-off for having such a complex engine running the show, some things have to be simple, run on auto-pilot. So next time you fly off the handle because someone is hitting on your girlfriend or someone is messing with your property, don’t worry about it, your grey matter will make up for it by making a six way connection in a flash, with completely different things from out of the blue. Just don’t think about it too hard, it’ll make you crazy, just go with it. Your brain will take care of itself. I hope. Cogito ergo sum.

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