A Machine Cannot Think or Feel
I am all worked up over my latest insight – that people can be machines (including computers).
I have enormous respect for Lewis Mumford, whose writing on this subject has left me feeling like a nobody. But he never seemed to understand that people themselves could become machines. Not just function as machines, but actually become machines.
And be unable to function in any other way. Once people crossed over that bridge (which happened gradually, over centuries) there was no turning back.
People are social animals, and most of what we are is learned (from each other). This made us evolve much faster. But when we were exposed to machines we started learning from them. And we learned how to be them. Without realizing it – since most of our learning is subconscious and automatic.
This point cannot be stressed enough – we are not our conscious minds, which are very limited. We are our unconscious reasoning and our emotions – which are very much the same thing. In other words: our body. All of our body, with an emphasis on the brain and the central nervous system, but also our muscles, guts, and our genitals.
A machine does not have a body – and cannot think or feel. You may object that it can think – after all, it can play chess. But this is only because people have gone to a great deal of trouble to give it this limited reasoning ability.
They have gone to even more trouble (the biggest effort in history) to make it seem human. But we have only succeeded in fooling ourselves. Instead of making it more like us – we have succeeded in making us more like it.
One last disclaimer. People cannot be entirely like machines – they cannot be entirely inhuman, even though they have succeeded in that all too well sometimes. Thinking of them as machines is a useful strategy. Try it for yourself.