Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Are We Automatons Too?

This is the special post.

So, watching Futurama the other day, the one where Bender is upset because robots have no free will and whatnot because of their programming got me thinking. Bender can control his own actions, say what he wants, do what he wants, but because how his programming designed him to operate, his choice will ultimately be dependent on his circuitry. For example, if Bender robs a bank, it will not be because he wanted to, but because his programming decided it would be a good choice upon being given the option.

What it got me thinking was, could humans, us, not be Automatons as well? Now, an Automaton is a mechanical device, but I am going to use it in the Futurama sense for this post. You see, humans are much more like robots than we let off. What a computer does is dictated by it's design, what is written in the programming may not limit what it does, but oftentimes does dictate what it will do. Our genetic code, our Genes, the DNA that makes us up plays a very similar role. Do we dictate what we look like, how tall we grow, if we get black hair or red? No, our genes do that, our genetic structure. Now that has nothing to do with free will, but rather spontaneity, so I'm removing that from the equation quickly because it is not related to the argument. Why? Because to determine whether or not we are Automatons, in a sense, it is our free will that would need to be judged upon, and this is simply our appearance, both inner and outer.

Studies show that a child put up for foster care or an adopted child will act and behave more similarly to their birth parents rather than those who nurtured them. There is the word, nurture, no matter how much it adds, it cannot truly kill nature. If these children act more like the people they have never met or barely know, it means that the genes they inherited from their parents that have some influence over behavior, I'm guessing hormones come into play here, are persistent because they refuse to accept nurture, they refuse to adapt. Now, the main word here is free will. We believe we have free will because of the actions we do, but if the actions we do are dictated, or the likely scenario influenced, by the genes we inherited, then how free is our will? Many people get the concept of free will wrong because they confuse it with willpower, how much we can resist, but that cannot effect something that is neither irresistible or repulsive. That is our genes, our genetic code. This code will help influence what kind of foods we like, what smell we find good and at an extreme extent, maybe even our preferred genre of literature.

We cannot control our genes and how they affect us, we can affect them, but what they do to us, reversible or not, preventable or not, will affect us. Our willpower is related to our thoughts and we cannot communicate via our thoughts to our genes or our blood cells, that is why willpower has no place in this argument. I will say one thing, though, no matter how much our genetic structure can influence our minds, it cannot control them. It cannot make us do anything, that isn't free will, but rather you guys should think of it as a meter that can break the dial, but continue to work. What I mean is that if we are a dial and a meter regulates us, when that meter breaks it will still work, but it won't control the dial. So I suppose what I am trying to say is that our genes do have an affect on us, almost similar to the affect that Bender's programming has on him in Futurama. We are not Automatons, not yet anyways.

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