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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Who is afraid of whom?

Last night I watched a movie that made me think different about things. Some things, not all. The movie is called Bicentennial Man and is based on short story by Isaac Asimov of the same name. The movie is about an (immortal) robot, transforming himself into an Android to blend in with humans, and then doing everything he can to be recognised as a (mortal) human being. This is one of the few movies that pictures a loving robot. Apart from the Spielberg movie A.I., I can't recall any other.

Aliens and robots are usually viewed as (potentially) hostile in Sci-Fi movies. After seeing tonight's movie, I'm convinced that this anticipated robotic hostility is another intriguing example of reverse human psychology and human projection on a scale that I didn't perceive possible until now. Also see my April 16 blog on reverse psychology and projection.

We humans survived Evolution, at least until now, and we came out on top of the competition, called “Survival of the Fittest”. That fact makes as very suspicious of any potential new, better equipped, competitor. Robots and aliens fit in that box. We fear losing our #1 position. Not to known “enemies”, like insects, snakes, etc. We fear unknown, potential, enemies. We fear becoming #2 or worse. We fear being hunted like we now hunt the present #2, #3 and so on (e.g., Terminator).

We humans must be the most feared species on Earth, from the perspective of any other species. If only as we seem to be the only species that kills for fun, either our own species or any other species. The other species only kill for food, never for fun. Moreover, we humans don't like competition. We do everything to eliminate competition. In business, love, religion, sports, and anywhere else.

The combination of these two human traits, eliminating competition by killing, is the central theme in many Sci-Fi movies, especially when it comes to aliens. It's inconceivable to human beings that an alien could be friendly and would not be interested in wiping us out on Earth. In fact, that is probably exactly what we humans would do when we would need to leave a depleted Earth: find a new planet and kill the indigenous population to avoid competition (e.g., natural resources). Even on Earth there are plenty of examples of doing just that. Hence, my view of reverse psychology towards and projection onto aliens and robots.

According to evolutionists, feeling fear is a crucial element in human survival. Fear of heights, of water, of insects, of large open spaces, of crowded spaces, and so on. They all had (rather than have) an evolutionary purpose in human survival. Without feeling fear, inexperienced human beings (e.g., children) would die easily. Given the duration of pregnancy and raising children into experienced adults, feeling no fear might be prohibitive for becoming the #1 species.

Feeling fear towards Artificially Intelligent (AI) robots – or aliens - indeed makes perfect sense from an evolutionary angle. However, it's always a human being who is creating that AI. And, "some of the biggest names in science and technology have called for a global ban on “killer robots”, amid warnings that crossing that threshold would start a new global arms race" (FT). 

In my view, the species that we should fear most, is our own. From an evolutionary angle, we may still be considered rather primitive, violent creatures. Looking forward to a human "upgrade".