With all the advancements in artificial intelligence, bio-technology and bio-engineering that have come about in the last few years, one could be forgiven for envisioning a future where we are creating androids that are easily mistaken for being human, Philip K. Dick styles, or even making human bodies from scratch, person without belly button styles. And we may very soon get there, and reach that stage where we are grappling with the complexities of injecting the full range of human emotion into something we’ve made ourselves… but for now we’ve got some amazing equipment that fulfil most of the functions we require to save ourselves time and make our lives “easier”, and we also have some rad computer graphics that can create creepily realistic copies of ourselves and our world on a screen.
So many things being done for us mechanically, with no awareness; all these robots carrying out the necessary tasks to keep the world running just the way we like it, we kind of don’t have to do anything except run the computers, and soon we won’t even have to do that anymore, so all that will be left is our own experience of the world without these tasks. An experience of just experiencing perhaps. That’s the world I imagine at least.
When stripped back to their essence- perhaps more philosophically speaking than biologically, although to me the biological perspective still kind of makes sense- one would find a complex series of electrical impulses within the brain, responding to stimulation of the senses. These impulses form the basis of our emotions. They started off as basic, then over time grew ridiculously complex as the brain got bigger and our family groups/tribes/villages expanded. An awareness of danger probably fostered fight-or-flight, which then evolved in to anger and fear. Anticipation and surprise probably developed not long after that, with joy and sadness magicking themselves into being depending on whether the outcome of the surprise or anticipatory action was beneficial or detrimental to the individual and/or their social group. Disgust and trust result from an increased understanding of the internal thoughts/motivations of another person/animal, and there you’ve got the ingredients for the beautiful and the fucked up feelings we all express to each other in day to life- infatuation, jealousy, astonishment, pride, hope, exasperation, shame, submission, all the fun things.
The way human beings interact with each other depends on each individual brain’s chemical make-up (serotonin, endorphins etc), but generally speaking, the basic human desire is to share thoughts/feelings/experiences with another human. The need we have as babies for love and affection- things babies need to survive- carries over in to adulthood, only with layer upon layer of past experience and emotion to bend the light in certain ways. We spend our lives seeking that simple feeling of satisfaction we got as we were held close to a warm body while being fed milk from a breast or a bottle, but the path gets muddied by all sorts of shit from all aspects of modern society along the way. We go looking for affection, for acceptance, for enjoyment… what could be better than rolling around in a beautiful , safe expanse of nature with someone you are emotionally close to, both of you laughing hard and loud just because you enjoy each other’s company so fucking much? I’m sure you could try to name a few things, and so could I, but how many of those alternatives are not in any way skewed by some experience we had once we were old enough to put 2 and 2 together and come up with This World Is Fucked and I Am A Victim of Something, at least for a couple of years? Honestly?
Nothing satisfies our basic urges more than the scene I proposed, especially if the laughing is post-coital.
If everyone stripped back the bullshit, forgot the sad things about their past and kept focussed on that sharing and appreciation of experiences with other humans, maybe we’d all roll around in fields laughing together. For that reason it might be good if we just let the machines take over and do everything for us.
We just have to make sure that the synthesising of emotions for use in artificial intelligence systems never actually happens, because emotions are unpredictable, and their mixtures make people do weird shit like killing members of their own species for any reason other than immediate defence. If the human race can create monsters like Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler (there’s that broken search for satisfaction thing again), who knows what kind of carnage the wildcard droids experiencing rage, jealousy or vengefulness would inflict. Why is it necessary to have robots feel emotion and respond like we do anyway? We are sort of perfectly designed to be the dominant species on the planet, so what is the rational in attempting to create stronger, faster and smarter versions of ourselves? THIS IS WHY THE MATRIX HAPPENED GUYS.
I hope you think about this. It’s definitely better than thinking about who got voted off Masterchef.