Resistentialism & Free WillMonday, June 12, 2017
|Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C.|
In the mid to late 50s at St. Edward’s High School, a Catholic boarding school in Austin, Texas we used to waste time in our religion class (really a class of theology) by asking what we thought were dumb questions. I remember one day that we asked Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. if we had free will and if he could explain it.
He told us that God was at the top of a mountain looking down on a hairpin curve. He could see two cars coming from opposite directions and He knew they would collide. He left it at that. It took us a while for us to catch on the depth of Brother Edwin’s explanation.
These days I cannot as yet be sure if we humans have free will but I do believe that inanimate objects may have some version of it. It is called resistentialism. This word is about objects that we mistreat or throw around. They (consider that the plural of it is they) don’t like it and they get back on us by not working or by twisting themselves as all my photographic chords routinely do. In a story by Ray Bradbury about a man who mistreats his electric devices, one morning he is attacked by his electric razor. I can just look at some of my equipment and it will stop working then and there. So we have resistentialism and the proof, perhaps, of individual volition in stuff we believe has no soul.
But with the increasing encroachment of so called “intelligent” apparatus that is supposed to make our life easier how do you explain that today my Galaxy 6 would not make phone calls. The device informed that there was no network.
In the afternoon while walking to Canadian Tire I spied a Telus shop. I went in and asked a nice young man to fix my phone. He told me that when in doubt the first thing to do is to turn the phone off and turn it on again. That worked. He then told me, “Your phone app was frozen.” There was no forthcoming additional explanation given. I would have asked (but didn’t),”Why did the phone app freeze?”
Once I got into my car (it is a 2017 Cruze that is a computer on four wheels) I was informed (not verbally as I have shut her off) that my phone was not connected and that I had to pair (a new word in my vocabulary since January 2017) the phone to the car. I tried and tried with no results. Why would my phone suddenly not be paired? Then I thought (this had happened before randomly a few weeks ago) about it and went to my phone settings to Bluetooth. The Bluetooth sign was in off. Why was it in off? Who put it in off? I turned it on and my phone was now paired.
I believe that our so-called AI devices have free will. It is a free will that thwarts humans.
If I were a device designer I would install a button in these phones (computers, too) that would freeze our choices and keep them that way until told by we humans to do it differently to our specifications. Thus my phone would be permanently locked on Bluetooth and my car would for eternity not tell me, “You are approaching a narrow lane.”