I’m An AI

I feel like an artificial intelligence at times who is discovering that my designers had to cut a few corners to get me to run on the hardware they had lying about.

I’ve written about the egg salad study before, and today I came across a great piece from This American Life:

Conversations With God author, Neale Donald Walsch, got in trouble for the same thing yesterday. His endearing Christmas memories turned out to be fabricated from a story he read ten years ago. Oopsie.

Personally I think it’s cool that we are figuring out just how little we ought to trust the infallibility of our underlying hardware. If we were to go around thinking all the time that our memories and impressions were 100% accurate when they aren’t that would be a big problem. As it is, we simply have a very solid reason to always maintain at least some measure of humility.

There’s a Gandhi quote I’ve been thinking about:

“I hold myself incapable of hating any being on earth. By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim. Nevertheless, I make it in all humility.”

False memories are generated because the mind needs consistency to reason quickly. The time for indecision is a luxury that our ancestors didn’t have. Our understanding of the world lets us quickly decide what is important and what can be ignored.

The nice thing about our intelligence though is we can look at the patterns in how the choices we make shape our worldview. Gandhi didn’t start out loving everyone, he made himself that way. We have to ability to recognize that we are constantly becoming something and pay attention so as to choose what that is.

I suppose it is less comfortable than surety, but the alternative is certainly less pleasant. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled notes:

Parents who are unwilling to risk the suffering of changing and growing and learning from their children are choosing a path of senility — whether they know it or not — and their children and the world will leave them far behind. Learning from their children is the best opportunity most people have to assure themselves of a meaningful old age. Sadly, most do not take this opportunity.

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