I came across an article about automatons today. The author wrote of how we would eventually live, breathe, give birth to and even partner with automation, as some already do as humanoid technologies grow. It reminded me of something I once wrote years ago on automatons -- minds on autopilot.
Autopilot as I grew weary, dreary, through the monotony of everyday drudgery. I wrote of armies of little non-thoughts and dust fairies, crawling up bodies and nestling into the crooks and wrinkles, seeping through pores and travelling up, down, left, right, everywhere, infesting brains and finding new homes in selves. Sometimes, some mornings, nights, and days, we walk through the world with dead eyes. One foot automatically steps in front of the other. Most of us are awakened with automated alarms, coffee makers, kettles, light sensors, washers, dryers, doors, reminders, schedules, where we need to be and go, what we need to do and think about, calendars populated months in advance, arranged by tradition, work, custom, and our movements in and against traffic timed by the changing of lights. There is always that funny struggle when waiting at a light with no vehicle in sight. And then there are self-driving cars. But, despite my highly organized outer world, I am what is most automated. Me -- automated.
I don't mean movement and the things that help me get around. In my past, I spoke of automation when the mind is sick, thrust deep into a darkness that seems inescapable, and automation is survival. It is what keeps one moving, feet shuffling, mouth chewing, swallowing, breathing, all the time trying not to think. Automation saves lives -- in many ways.
But automation also lets one sink into cushions of comfort. It pushes us into a cycle of efficient routines, but also, prevents us from exiting this cycle without disruption. We like comfort and hate uncertainty. Thinking about existence, meaning and life, which ultimately can seem rather uncertain, aren't the nicest things to do in your free time.
Sometimes it is precisely free time that we shy away from. Some parts of society teach us to fill our schedules to the brim, so much so that some of us have to schedule free time. Doing fast and going to the next thing is what constitutes "progress." This form of automation does not make it easy for one to pause and think, nor does it help us appreciate what can happen when we let things disrupt the cycle. Yet, automation is the cycle, it drives it round and round, and when our cycles collide with that of other persons, souls and life on this planet or beyond, we fight, roar, scream, push, pull, and ultimately implode, explode, and still manage to do this over and over again, seemingly never learning our lessons because automation saves us every single time.
A new cycle, automatically, forms out of the clashes, and we adapt, albeit sometimes unconsciously and some have it less painfully than others. The systems governing our lives are automatic. Our thoughts and belief systems are automatic. Although, they need not be, and never were in the first place.
I do not think automation is to be feared nor should it be discarded. I owe my life to it. Yet, I owe it to life to not be an automaton, to go beyond what I know, to challenge uncertainty and the certain, find faith, discover others, and find harmony among our cycles. Automation is the first step to being alive, but it should not be my last. It should give me ease, but it should not stop me from looking outside of comfort. Even within faith, I find it to be at times stifling if I let it take over. For if I become set in my ways, I can no longer pride myself on human fluidity, instead I am just as good as the next robot.
Automation is not an evil entity. I do not think it consciously tries to keep me in its grasp. I cannot blame automation for taking over when it does. My little robot friend is a life buoy that tells me that it's role is only to keep me afloat when I cannot, so that when I have recovered, I can go forth into the world and discover the beauty in stopping while in the midst of a cycle, and appreciate the uncertainty of it all.
Faith in itself, like a life buoy, sometimes a life buoy, is not automatic. It is never certain in the questions it tries to answer in the first place, and those who attempt to answer it often have to look beyond automatic survival and intuition to discover possible answers. We are no different as searchers of truth. Which is why, by all means, keep your robots, but be human, don't be a robot -- those can be bought at the store.