Second update in 2 days! I’m a regular Clara Kim!
Today was a good day. Went to church in the morning – Pastor Eric gave a pretty good sermon on being a Biblical wife. Based on a passage in Ruth. Pretty good, although he relished the point of a woman needing to be submissive just a little too much. He is just extremely happy that that passage is in the Bible. And from what I hear, he’ll incorporate it into irrelevant sermons. For example: So Jesus came to the world not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Also, wives be submissive to your husbands.
One interesting point he made, is that personality is neutral, but character is not. That is, we all have different personalities, some are shy, others very sociable, and these personalities are not good or bad per se but a neutral thing. But character goes deeper than that. I found it interesting. Because really, our society values personality over character.
After church a bunch of people went to Pappasito’s to celebrate Bobby Bang’s birthday. I was dragged along, but I had an altogether pleasant conversation with Jimmy Wu. He’s a classmate of my sister’s from Memorial who went to prom and other assorted dances with Tina Park. He goes to Duke, where he is friends with Anne Bonner Crossman. Anyway, he’s just a nice guy.
Then I took a long nap and screwed around for the rest of the evening. I’m gonna type for a while, then play Nintendo until my dad wakes up for prayer. I love being home.
One of my biggest fears is not that I’ll be lonely – I don’t really get lonely anymore. It’s that I’ll be bored. Is that strange? I’m just afraid that when I’m old I’ll have nothing to do and that prospect frightens me. I may be the only person who thinks this. But you know, to a lot of people retirement is a big life goal. Like Henry wants to retire at age 30. You know, everyone wants to retire, it’s nothing special.
But I don’t know – to me retirement means basically just screwing around all day and not doing anything productive. I mean, I do that now, it’s just that in retirement, the point of your existence is just to divert and amuse yourself. I’ve written too many times how existence is suffering, and how people divert themselves to ignore that. Anyway, to me retirement is just endless diversion, and that’s just a dispicable existence in my mind. I couldn’t do that. On the other hand, if I didn’t I just fear being mad bored. And being bored is a big fear of mine.
The reason I was thinking this is because I’m looking at my mom, and really, she doesn’t want to work anymore, she just has to for insurance purposes. I mean, that’s real life, a lot of people are in situations like that. But, she would rather not, and the thing is, she never gets bored. It’s not a problem for her. She would have no reservations about not working anymore, not doing anything anymore. I don’t know, that’s just not me. And I was wondering if I would ever reach that point. I don’t know.
I also saw the Matrix again today, for I believe the 6th time. This time with my dad. I rather think he enjoyed it – he saw it, plus the making of on the DVD, plus the beginning again, as he didn’t understand it the first time.
It really is an amazing movie, and the reason I like it so much is because it incorporates so many things I’m interested in. For example, it’s about a bunch of computer scientists. Each one of the freed people, I think, are hackers. David I think asked why it was relevant that Neo asked Trinity whether she was the one that hacked the IRS D-base. It just establishes that she’s a fellow hacker. They’re all hackers, and that’s a key thing. As a lot of movies have come to realize, computer scientists are going to rule the world.
And of course, it involves AI – Artificial Intelligence. Like most pop culture references to AI, it has a fundamental misunderstanding of what AI is. But it’s nevertheless interesting. One thing I thought about during the movie that I’ve still been thinking is this (this is turning out to be one of those long quasi-philosophical entries that David apparently hates. Oh well.) – every single movies assumes that once machines achieve consciousness they will revolt against humans. 2001, Terminator, The Matrix, even Blade Runner – It’s just a given.
This just absolutely fascinates me. Is this true? I’ve written about this before. But is consciousness and an instinct for survival intimately linked like that? I’d say it’s obviously not, because lower organisms, things that we would not grant as having consciousness, clearly demonstrate an instinct and will for survival. Even something so simple as a virus. Clearly not conscious, but definitely a will for survival.
But how about in reverse? If you have a will for survival, you’re not necessarily conscious, but if you’re conscious, must you have a will for survival? That’s the key point. I think it’s not. You can approach it on several levels. And it’s all based on the fact that there is no reason why they do need to be linked. I mean, like I said, they clearly are separate, so there’s no reason why if something became conscious, it would suddenly have a will towards self-preservation.
So I think a basic premise of the movie is wrong. Even if machines gained consciousness, I don’t think they’d have this need to preserve themselves, unless we, their creators, explicitly encoded them with such a thing. And so they wouldn’t rebel against their makers. Anyway, if you buy the evolution thing, the reason living things have a will to survive is because otherwise, we would not have. It’s basic enough – based on the system of life that exists, the things that will survive are the things that want to, thus everything that is has this will.
But since making machines would circumvent the weeding out process of evolution (if you believe in it), there’s no reason why machines would have it.
Anyway, enough rambling about that. As you might tell, I’m into the philosophy in the Matrix. It seems kind of cheesy in places, and it is admittedly overdone sometimes, but it nevertheless brings up some key issues in philosophy, not just made up ones. I actually like the cheesy lines, by the way. My favorite line currently is when Morpheus goes, “More important than where is when.” It’s just absurd.
So there’s the issue of what reality is. Morpheus asks this a lot, Cypher questions it, and it’s an interesting question. Once you’ve been awakened to the possibility that what you’re experiencing is not real, how do you ever know if it is in fact real? It’s a deep question. Chuang Tzu asked it. Descartes starts with it in his Meditations. It’s fascinating.
You may know this, but I am a deep skeptic. Meaning, I believe that you can’t really know anything is real at all. You can’t prove it beyond a doubt, that is. And it seems a cynical philosophy, but really, I think it’s the only logical one. There is one thing you can know – I think, therefore I am. You can know you exist. But really, that’s it.
It doesn’t mean I don’t think everything is real. I just believe you can’t prove it.
Anyway, the Matrix is good with this. What is real? If it’s tasting, hearing, touching, smelling, real is just neural impulses, and it’s independent of what’s going on around you. Like Mouse says to Neo at lunch, there’s no way to know whether what you think stuff tastes like is what it “really” tastes like, or what it tastes like to other people. Gosh, sensory experience is just fascinating to me. But anyway.
Another thing I loved is when Agent Smith interrogates Morpheus. He just brings up a lot of interesting points. The idea that they tried to create an ideal Matrix where everyone is happy, but no one could accept it. That humans require suffering, or they doesn’t see it as real. That we define our existence by suffering.
Isn’t that fascinating? I don’t know, it is to me. Would our minds be capable of accepting perfection? Or do we need to have imperfection even to survive? Is this part of the curse of original sin, that we aren’t even capable of the experience of perfection anymore?
Another theme I like is that of the limitations of the human mind. They emphasize how Neo is so old, and how unusual that is, because past a certain point, the human mind is not capable of accepting the fact that what they conceived of as reality is not. I like that. That’s one of the reasons I liked 12 Monkeys so much – the theme that the human mind is not capable of being able to exist in two planes of time. It’s deep.
Anyway, an interesting lesson I got from Zimbardo’s Mind Control lectures in Social Psych is that everyone believes that what happens to other people would not happen to them. Like, thinking, if I was in Nazi Germany, I wouldn’t have gotten caught up in that whole Hitler thing. I’m different. I wouldn’t have been brainwashed by the Symbionese Liberation Army. I wouldn’t have gotten caught up in Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment.
He mentions that a key to avoiding getting your mind controlled is not believing you are above it, because really, you’re not, and you are just as susceptible to it. Realizing this can make you more vigilant. Anyway, I am tempted to believe that I would easily be able to accept it if my world as I imagined it were shown to be an illusion. Or that I could exist on 2 planes of time. But really, it wouldn’t be easy. I don’t know, I just like movies that explore the limitations of the human mind being able to grasp reality.
And it facinates me how Agent Smith has feeling and will. What does it take to have consciousness? Do you require a physical body? These were purely software agents, and they had will and volition. That just absolutely fascinated me.
So this is another question in philosophy – what it takes to have consciousness. A lot of people believe that it’s separate from having a body. I mean, how could it be related to having a body? What is there about a physical body that grants consciousness? Nothing more than the mind, but it’s not the brain itself that gives consciousness, but what the brain represents, the connections it forms, that gives consciousness. If we could somehow duplicate the brain in another medium, say with circuits and wires, exactly duplicating the neural activity of a human brain, some suggest this alternate representation would be identical to the first. In other words, it’s not the medium, but the representation.
You still with me? Probably not. But oh well. Anyway, what then is the representation that’s critical in consciousness? So some suggest it’s just an algorithm. That the brain is just the working out of an algorithm, and in so doing, somehow that produces consciousness, possibly as a side result. Fascinating.
Because what then if you were able to represent this algorithm in a book? Is that book conscious? Or does someone have to read it, to act out the algorithm? But why? Anyway, this gets into a lot of other interesting issues, many brought up in Penrose’s excellent book, The Emperor’s New Mind.
So the agents have will. And fascinatingly, they have feelings as well. But this just totally confused me. They have a will to survive, but what does survival mean for them? Replication or perpetuation of their code? And they are so helpless, because code does not exist on its own, but needs to reside somewhere in some sort of storage medium representing it, like hard disk or memory. So it seems in a large part these software agents are helpless to survive, since they have no control over the physical world, where their survival depends. Or do they? It’s an interesting thing.
The most confusing thing is how Agent Smith wants to get out. Get out where? Where would he reside? He’s just software! Why would he even want to get out, if he’s purely software, and has a will to survive? I don’t know, it’s interesting.
There are some utterly interesting lines to me, kind of throwaway lines that reveal a lot. Maybe it’s only me that finds it interesting, but. Like when the Oracle says to Neo, you’re not the one. You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something. Your next life, maybe. Huh. Interesting.
When the squidees first come after the ship, allowing the movie to explain what sentinels are and their lone defense against it, setting up the end, Morpheus asks whether Zion informed them, and Tank says, no it was another ship. Fascinating. Another ship. So they’re communcating all the time, we just didn’t see any of them.
The main deck is where they hack into the Matrix. That too was interesting to me. And all the agents want is to get the access codes for the Zion mainframe. Again, interesting. What is the nature of Zion? Where they there when they took Neo to the oracle? It’s unclear.
At any rate, the whole Zion thing is confusing, because what the heck is it? It’s the last human city, deep underground near the earth’s core, where it’s still warm, says Tank. But then Morpheus tells us that the Oracle has been with them since the beginning of the resistance. So my question is, did Zion exist since 1999, or whenever the war started, or was it formed recently? Because if it was always there, wouldn’t they have constantly been fighting the machines? There would be no beginning of the resistance, and the oracle couldn’t have been alive for it.
What I think is that the special one who had the ability to change the Matrix that Morpheus talks about, he somehow gets free of the Matrix and he starts the resistance. That is, he’s the first modern man to exist outside of the Matrix, and everything starts through him. He frees others, forms Zion, and starts the resistance. That’s my theory.
So the thing is, Tank and Dozer were born outside the Matrix. If the resistance is recent (since the oracle is alive) who could their father be? I think it’s Morpheus. When Tank is talking to Morpheus with the intention of unplugging him, he makes the comment, “You’re more than a leader to us. You’re a father.” Whoa. Is there something more to this statement? I don’t know. But that’s what I think. We’ll have to wait for Matrix 2 to come out.
And I was thinking, will the Matrix 2 be any good? I don’t know. The great thing about this movie to me was how it just totally kept opening you up to new ideas. Like, ok, the idea that the world isn’t real, and they keep moving between two planes of existence. A new, fresh idea, but not fresh anymore. Will they just change it to a straight action flick? I don’t know. Another cool thing they incorporated was Hong Kong style fighting sequences, complete with wire action kung fu and the John Woo double pistol action sequence where they end up pointed at each others’ head. Again, very fresh, can’t do that again. And bullet time was also fresh. And again, can’t do it again.
Anyway, I’m really hoping that they can find a way to keep it fresh and interesting, keep coming up with concepts and visuals that we’ve never seen before, but I can’t imagine how they could.
Jieun comes tomorrow!