29.3.11

Not Plato's Dialogues

I noticed that xkcd has taken to the habit of minimalism with comics by only having stick figures. I really like this because it lets the reader imagine more. I will give tribute to xkcd (and whomever else has done it before xkcd) by taking the experiment further and having comics with no graphics whatsoever. Enjoy!


Darwines (pronounced like Socrates): *walks into the break room*

Athena: Hey Darwines, what are you up to? :)

Darwines: Looking for sex.

Athena: !?

Darwines: As an experiment today I have decided to be totally honest with all my answers. Hence I am telling you what I am ultimately up to as a human being since nothing specifically is up at the moment.

Athena: But that sounds very... shallow... cold... creepy... adjectives fail me. You won't get much if you use that sort of honesty.

Darwines: My dear Athena, evolution may be shallow, cold, and creepy to us, but that is because we have deceived ourselves into thinking that true love exists and that our interactions are meaningful. In the end our only purpose is to replicate.

Athena: But just having sex isn't enough, you have to NOT use birth control and then you have to raise your offspring. (if you abandon them they won't be likely to reproduce)

Darwines: Yes a valid point, but trivial. I will just say: I am looking to have sex, then children, but not love (in the sense we usually use it). Love is but a sexual attraction to one's own mate or an instinctual attraction to one's own relatives, a chemistry of the brain.

Athena: But how are you going to raise your children, make sure your wife remains emotionally stable enough to help you, and make sure your children are sane enough to find their own mates?

Darwines: I'm not sure what you mean by “emotionally stable”, if I did I surely could explain it through chemical reactions.

Athena: You are forgetting the social game. Everyday you engage in a complex ritual to share resources with those around you and enable your family to be happy and successful (I guess that is what I mean by “emotionally stable”). One theory of how this works is through the mirror neurons in our brains. These neurons are theorized to be important for socialization because they fire in the same patterns when you do something and when you observe another person doing the same thing. Essentially these neurons allow you to subconsciously tune your ability to feel other people's emotions as they perform actions or let off body language cues in a social context. This ritual is partially (mostly) intuitive because of our mirror neurons, and although these interactions can be "explained" through chemical reactions and neurology there is no way to replicate them with a logical algorithm and hence there is no way to explain how to socialize totally accurately and rationally, until (maybe) we develop better artificial intelligence.

Darwines: Wow, I didn't know you were so logical, thats fantastic! So wait... I'm not offending you by arguing that everything is meaningless?

Athena: No, but I see no reason that defining and understanding something scientifically should make it meaningless.

Darwines: Well... because it then can all be reduced to physics or chemistry which are just math.

Athena: Well not really, like I said we can't even make algorithms yet for some things... like social interactions, and even if someday we do... what difference would it make to their meaning?

Darwines: Well... most people get offended because they feel it's a cold view. I thought you would too.

Athena: Well I don't. And I don't think you can argue meaning... at least I haven't seen of a way you can define it universally. Different people find different things to be meaningful, but you don't have to offend me to start an argument!

Darwines: And you are not offended at me for being overly scientific?

Athena: No, my problem with you was that you were not being scientific enough. You have such a shallow view of what it actually takes to maximize your replication!

Darwines: Ok because I am experimenting with total honesty and I see your point... I will adjust my original statement: I am looking to perform a very complex intuitive ritual with someone I inexplicably find my self drawn to. I will care for her and my family to my utmost ability and engage in an activity known as "love" to keep my children alive and happy for the longest time possible so that they may carry on and do the same.

Athena: Oh that is starting to sound romantic! You're learning.

Darwines: Wait... but it's all brain chemistry! How is that romantic?

Athena: Because it is oh so very scientific and accurate (closer to being at least), hence romantic!

Darwines: Wait... would you like to get coffee with me latter?

Athena: Certainly! But only because I am using the scientific principle of induction to predict that the more I talk to you the more you will learn and the more romantic you will become.

Darwines: !... :)

Athena: :)

*later at coffee*

Darwines: Could I ask you a question?

Athena: You just did...

Darwines: Oh I'm sorry...

Athena: Just don't do it again! Nah, seriously what is your question?

Darwines: When we eventually do get to the point where we can make an algorithm for social interaction and hence love... would you think it romantic if I read it to you, or printed out the code for you?

Athena: The code might be neat, but I would probably never understand it since the full complexity of normal social interaction is too much for conscious thought. And no... don't read it to me because it would be very long and I would fall asleep!

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