Connecting the Dots

OUR ILLUSIVE SELF

Recently, (and I’m sorry but on this occasion, I must cheat), I have discovered a truly amazing spot of news that might seem trivial at first but in fact impacts all of our lives greatly. Scientists and engineers have been able to remote-control cockroaches. Hang on…remote control what? That’s right – by attaching a compact device onto a cockroach’s back, we are now able to control these little beasts.

How does this work, you may ask? I have gathered, from my limited understanding, that signals are sent to the cockroach’s antennae – signals which we can choose and determine using our remote. Since cockroaches respond to their surroundings using information from their antennae (like how we see, smell and touch), they will perceive this fake information in a certain way and act accordingly. As it turns out, we can use this method to control the cockroach’s every action, effectively turning it into a mindless slave.

Now…does this apply to humans? Are we only responding mechanically to what we sense in our surroundings? With cockroaches, it is a bit simpler judging by the complexity of their brains, but even in human beings, I am convinced that sense and perception control everything. We react to stimuli in a certain way – and this is different to every person – but if we are to take John, for example, and throw a ball at him, seeing his reaction – then reverse time and throw him the ball again, he will react in the exact same way as before. Are we then, purely mechanistic in this sense? Does remote-controlling a cockroach mean that we will eventually be able to remote-control humans once the complexity of our thoughts is taken into account?

All that we’ve gathered from research tells us that this is true…we are as prone to mechanistic behaviour as cockroaches are, just on such a high level of complexity that we do not notice it. The cockroach would, after all, not notice its own mechanisticity, so why would we? If we take a step back, will we see that humans operate on a set of simple rules and instructions? Are we nothing but a conglomerate of complex molecules obeying the unshakable laws of physics?

Perhaps.

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