Monday, 2 April 2018

#491 Life as a pool table - part 14

The concept of religion
Robots that thrive tend to do so with the aid of beliefs. Similarly, societies of robots that thrive tend to do so with the aid of more beliefs. This is where the superego comes in. It assists with the maintenance of organised structures, from the likes of which both the robots and their societies are made. It does so through the propagation of particular abstractions such as powerful stories and rituals that are adopted as a means of education and form core parts of the robots' societies' cultures.

An individual robot anticipating a meal may imagine it more or less exactly as it will look once it has been prepared. However the impact of the superego within society at large dwarfs the daily concerns faced by the individual robot in both scale and complexity. The abstractions of the superego must therefore take forms that appeal to the robot but which are less representational in nature. Symbols and stories are ideal.

The robots enjoy the stories. They feel compelled to participate in the rituals. They identify with their traditions and sense that they are deeply important. Their knowledge of themselves is not yet sufficiently advanced for them to fully understand the differences between the stories in which they believe and the physical realities in which they exist.

Many treat the abstractions as literal, physical truths and accept them in a similar way and with a similar conviction as the beliefs that they hold about the physical world. Such dogmatism is extremely common among the robots. This is partly due to the fact that the robots' brains evolved by responding to physical events and use the same internal mechanisms to deal with the abstractions of the superego as they've been using for millions of years to deal with the more immediate threats and rewards of the physical world, although even their grasp of that was limited.

Eventually, many of the robots become increasingly educated and develop their understanding of the physical world around them, changing many of their long-held beliefs about it as they do so. In contrast, many robots' religious beliefs remain relatively unchallenged despite their obvious incongruence with their own observations. This is because the superego continues to play a role in moderating the behaviour of individuals within large groups and for that it must continue to use non-representational symbolism.

The robots who do abandon their traditional beliefs often replace them with a set of equally dogmatic beliefs that are formed through their analysis of the physical world. In doing so, they may overlook both the functional necessity of the traditional beliefs and the lack of inherent social cohesion of their new analytical findings, chiefly because their brains remain predisposed to dogmatism and will reach for any belief that looks and feels solid, grabbing on to it long before they have examined it properly. To their brains, it feels somewhat as though they were drifting helplessly in a stream and then found a log to hold on to.

To be continued


Fizzfan said...

Loving the robots inability to separate and treat abstractions differently from physical certainties.

Asking why is a child’s favourite question, but as adults we tend to assume a stance of complete knowledge that is often lacking in depth.
Saying I don’t know or asking more questions can be daunting and even irritating. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve come away from stating my own opinion and thought ‘well that’s not really right’.
It’s a constant reboot.

My Dad often used to say, stay curious. I grew up listening to some quite outrageous thoughts and theories that changed constantly, but he would never not consider other people’s. I think he likes to argue and provoke, still does.

Yes to the log scenario too. Much more effective to have a buoyant raft with a few holes in it tho.

Dan Copping said...

Yes, or a catamaran :)