The only aim of our lives –
of every choice and action we take –
– is to convince our own brains
to make us feel good.
The problem is,
our brains haven’t been programmed
to make us feel good
– they’ve been programmed
to maximise the survival chances of our genes.
Conscious Robots Theory
is an attempt to understand
the implications of this for our daily lives
and to work out what it means for our future.
We live our lives on the assumption that, if we can overcome various challenges in the world around us, we’ll be rewarded with happiness, contentment and satisfaction. If we have nice house, a great relationship, well-adjusted kids and a couple of good vacations a year, we’ll live “happily ever after”.
The reality is that “how we feel” is entirely determined by an algorithm running in the non-conscious part of our minds – the part of our brains over which we have no conscious control.
The happiness algorithm is programmed by millions of years of evolution to maximise the survival chances of our genes – if the survival chances of our genes improves, the algorithm makes us feel “good”, if the survival chances of our genes falls we feel “bad” – pain, anguish, sorrow, anxiety and fear.
= maximise survival chances of genes.
Attempting to “maximise the survival chances of your genes” is the only thing that any evolved lifeform can do – whether it’s a tree, a slug or Nelson Mandela. If you believe in evolution, this is what you believe. More here.
(conscious mind) = maximise how good it feels.
“You” are your conscious mind. Your conscious experience is your only experience.
But your conscoius mind isn’t programmed to attempt to maximise the survival chances of your genes. Your conscious mind is programmed to maximise how good it feels. And nothing else. More here
Darwin and Dawkins didn’t say this.
This is something you can only learn from your own experience of life. Discussed here.
“How good you feel” is entirely determined by a part of your mind that you are not conscious of. More here.
Thus the entire meaning and purpose of any human, whether we are Genghis Khan or Mahatma Ghandi, is to convince our own brains to let us feel good.
Meditation attempts to gain conscious control over the non-conscoius mind - and thus to control feelings directly. Does it work? If it did, you wouldn't hear about it: the meditatiors would be too busy meditating to bother telling you about it. When a meditator tells you "meditation is great", the meditator is attempting to fool their own brains into making them feel good - by raising the status of the meditator. But why would they need to do that if they had a direct route to "feeling good"? We're suspicious.
Entirely because your mind thinks it is. It's just light waves entering your eye. Why does your mind think it's beautiful? Because natural selection. It's a fertile landscape: lots of food and water. You can see a long way - which means you have good warning of prey, of being attacked. To face the reality of being human, it helps to get the right perspective on "why" you feel the way you do about stuff.
You can use whatever word you like. It's not complicated. Fancy words are not needed, but if they make you feel good - that's great!. That's the whole point.
What we're talking about is "what you want" and you know what you want because of how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel good - you want it. If it makes you feel bad - you don't want it. That's free will! (just kidding).
Elon Musk wants to fly to Mars. It's a long way to go, just to convince his own mind to let him feel good...
The aim and purpose of every human that's ever lived - from Einstein to Churchill - is to convince their own brains to allow them to feel good.
How on Earth has Elon missed this? we have no idea. It's not exactly rocket science. If only he had a company that did brain rewiring. Oooh... Hold on. Maybe the Mars thing is just a misdirection... nice.
Anyone with money will tell you that. (Unless they're trying to sell you their "get rich with crypto" scheme. (because they aren't happy with all the money they already have (and they're hoping you won't notice that little contradiction))).
CRT tells you why money doesn't make you happier.
And it's not some vague "oh, because the really important things in life are family and helping other people" - because family and helping other people doesn't make you happy either. Having a great family makes you happy about "family" - but your brain compensates by making you less happy about something else - like your career, maybe, or your waistline. Having money makes you happy about having money. So you just start feeling bad about something else instead.
We need to talk about evolution.
Because evolution didn't just create us and then leave us alone to "get on with it". Like, 10,000 years ago. And then we used our "free will" to invent agriculture, nail polish and Netflix.
No way. Not possible. Evolution still controls everything we do. 100%.
We know this because nothing else can be created... other than by genetic changes.
But can't we choose? Can't we choose what we do with our lives? We are chess computers. We can choose the moves we make to achieve the objective(s) we have been given (although even those choices are just a part of the automatic cascade of chemical reactions that began with the big bang). But we can't choose our own objectives. Because on what values would we choose new objectives?
It's turtles all the way down. And the turtle at the bottom? He's standing on the (apparent) randomness of genetic change, almost all of which has been selected by "natural selection".
Religion exploits The Bug in the Programming of the Conscious Mind. As does self-onanism. SO can't be maladaptive - it can't be better than the real thing. Well, it could be - provided there's another urge that goes "hand in hand" with SO. How to think about evoution - using SO. Religion - might be adaptive. Can it be neutral - it's hard to think how it could be neutral, given that it's so powerful. Lots of theories that religion is adaptive 1) because it makes you feel better - this is probably a silly idea 2) because it makes the society more cohesive because there's an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky 3) Dunbar keen on trance - but not sure how the old girls at my local church have been getting into trance.
SO - is it adaptive, maladaptive or a spandrel? That's the first point when you're thinking about evolution - it has to be one of them. cf religion.
Maladaptive - it's hard to see how something very prevalent can be maladaptive, unless it actually has only a small impact on the life of the individual. SO could be a real problem - it's cheap, it's convenient, it doesn't require investment in offspring. But it doesn't seem to be a problem. So is there a secondary urge - beyond the "relief from the building pressure"? There does seem to be a strong secondary urge. (we could compare with homosexuality). Is it adaptive? It could be - it could control the urge of a male without a female eg when hunting, when at war, when simply a beta in the tribe.
5 reasons free will is impossible. hwat would it gtake to get happie r- moving the happiness around by solving one problem. expectation adjuster pleasure fader look for more keywords in notes
Evolution is everything.
There is no human behaviour that wasn’t chosen by natural selection.
Which seems bizarre. How could natural selection have known about mobile phones and fast food?
Simply because there is no other mechanism of “behaviour creation”.
No other way that our likes and desires could be “programmed”.
“Culture” can’t program us, because we can only be programmed to want things that we already want.
We can’t choose things for ourselves, because we need pre-existing likes and desires to know what “new thing” to like and desire.
Do some of us suffer more than others?
Communicating our happiness levels is an important part of the survival strategy of any human.
If we are strong, we want to prove our value to the rest of the tribe – either as a leader or as a valuable supporter. We must, therefore, communicate that we are happy – that we have sufficient ability to provide for ourselves a pleasant and enjoyable life. “I don’t need you, fellow tribe member, but I am strong enough to add to the tribe – provided you respect me and treat me well in return.”
If we are weak and struggling, we need support. We need sympathy. We need to say “I’m struggling now – I need you to feel my pain. But I will support you once you have supported me”. A beggar on the street cannot be too cheerful. He must be just the right amount of “I’m gritting my teeth and getting through this, and with just that little bit more support from you, I’ll be a right there for you, covering your back.”
And finally there is the author of the “I suffered in childhood because of abuse and/or mental illness, but now I am strong – and the fact that I overcame all that pain and difficulty means I’m worth even more to the tribe than if I’d been born with a silver spoon”.
Bottom line – you can never trust anyone else’s report of how happy or unhappy they are or were.
Just like you won’t be able to trust the robot when it tells you it is or isn’t conscious.