Monday, July 19, 2010

Making Robots Human

I was reading a blog post about an author reflecting back on their youth. In particular they were looking at what knowledge was missing from their lives as a child. This started my own thinking about being a child and being unsure of the world.

I am not the same person as I was 10 years ago, not because I've grown older but because thinking has made it so. Life is not just experience or events, a person's life is defined by the thoughts associated with what has happened in one's life. By comparing my life to other peoples life I learned to see what was missing from my thinking. Life changed when I began to observe more. Observe life by looking for the meaning in stories, look past the events in the story and ask, "why was this story written?" Their is a lot to be learned by looking deep into why a story is written. An interesting story theme I'd like to look at is the story of a robot becoming human.

Why do Humans Write Stories about Robots Becoming Human?
The first point is to notice the story wasn't written by a robot, but by a human. It is important to recognise the story is a projection of human thought. Another question to ask is, what is the significance of a robot becoming human? Why do humans think it is interesting to write a story about a robot growing into a human? The core theme of the story is transformation; from robot to human. On another level its about a caterpillar growing into a butterfly.

I want to suggest the robot is a metaphor for people who feel like robots. A person who goes to work and does the same job day in day out. Someone in this position might feel like a robot. The reader connects with the story because their is sympathy. To understand the story you need to know what it feels like to be a robot. There are times when all people have felt like a robot, stuck in a program written by someone else. In our hearts we want to be free from the life defined and decided for us. We want freedom. Think of the movie 'The Matrix.'

This story isn't just for adults, children can make the same connection. Think of the popular cartoon Astro Boy, this was a cartoon aimed at children. Why would children connect with these feelings of being a robot? I want to argue that school is the starting point for turning people into robots. That is the place many people are first introduced to repetitive tasks and learning is programmed into us. It's not a place to learn how to be free but rather how to fit in the program. I'm not saying school is bad, it is a stage in human development, but some people don't develop to the next stage. The next stage would be independent thought; a robot becoming human.

The movie Avatar takes a different approach to this idea. Here Jake escapes his crippled human life by having his mind projected into another creature. In this way he discovers a world where the old rules don't apply. Jake is transformed from a human to Navi. While the people stuck on the military base follow orders, Jake changes. Why? Were the humans on the military base trapped by their education? Jake escaped the limits of his thinking by changing his environment and being educated by the Navi. He becomes more then human and more then Navi. What I am trying to argue here is not that we are robots but we are limited by our education and thoughts.

I can relate to these stories personally. My experience in high school left me feeling trapped by my education. School wasn't flexible, it didn't help me explore who I was. I am not trying to say schools are bad. I am saying school shouldn't be a person's only education. Explore new ways of learning about the world.

At the end of high school I still thought the world was flat, and if I travelled too far I would fall off the edge (figuratively speaking). Inevitably everyone hits hard times. I did. That was when my learning really began. My eyes started to look for answers to personal problems. It is good to remember there are always options you can explore. The solution is just over the horizon, you don't see the answer yet; just keep moving forward. Don't be limited by letting other people do the thinking.

The difference between me and my younger self is .. I grow, and nothing stays the same.

Explore the edges of knowledge. The edge of knowledge is where fear lies.

Related Post
A Focused Mind Works

Related Reading
-Who Moved my Cheese
-Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
-The 50th Law by Robert Green and 50 Cents
-The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
-Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Related Movies
The Matrix

Blogs I read to expand my view of the world are
-Timeless Information
-Ryan Holiday
-Adventure of a Barefoot Geek

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