Who wrote the software running in your head? | Blogs


Recently, Tesla founder and outspoken entrepreneur Elon Musk ended a tweet with “Who wrote the software that runs in your head?” The analogy is prescient and the implications lead to a number of fundamental problems.

Like any software that runs on hardware today, the original program generally seems to work quite well. However, over time, things slow down. Problems arise. It is freezing. Ultimately, we end up with a process that gives us the wrong answers and can lead to bad decisions and damaging actions. (It looks like the mechanism inside my noggin).

Musk then asked, “Are you sure you really want him out there?”

This seems to recognize that the “code” is somehow flawed. Mine certainly has its flaws. The real question is whether it was embedded in the original data or whether somewhere along the way we allowed it to be infected and corrupted.

My faith clearly tells me who wrote the software and that it was “flawless” when it was created. The “corruption” of the program seems to have started immediately. We were created in a perfect world, and we “chose” a path that led us into the imperfect world in which we live. We just couldn’t resist the temptation. Apparently, this was the first “worm” (or rather snake) that we allowed to infect our software.

Musk appeared to address this issue in the tweet as well. “The big problem is that we need better mental firewalls for the information that is constantly reaching us. This comment is both trivial and insightful. On the surface, we find ourselves constantly bombarded with information. Over the past 50 years, we’ve gone from a few big radio and TV stations to 24/7 cable plugs to endless sources of streaming (and screaming).

Unfortunately, the quality of much of the information we receive is questionable to say the least. Unfortunately, we have lost our ability to objectively verify the validity of what we are receiving. We have “facts” and “alternative facts”. As one reporter put it: “Alternative facts are not facts. These are lies. The main victim is the “truth”, which, as my mother said, “is in the eye of the beholder”.

Do we need better filters? Absoutely! Unfortunately, the filters we choose are themselves often chosen based on our own personal biases rather than their objective usefulness.

It’s just a new way for our fallen nature to expose itself. We have always been susceptible to lies, wishful thinking, and outright personal deception that seem to lift us closer to the center of the universe. Our species seem particularly motivated to be more like God and generally not in the biblical sense (God, as more like God).

Rather, we have an innate desire to pursue things that seem to promote personal happiness or that enhance our status and wealth. Over the millennia, humans have strived to acquire knowledge and power (to become omniscient and omnipotent). Yet it is out of the most extreme arrogance and pride that people think we can control nature and the universe.

The more our pride drives us, the more we corrupt the software that runs in our heads. By perverting the program, we begin to degrade our moral compass. The insidious effect is to blur the lines between good and evil.

The firewalls we install can filter information and mitigate future errors. However, even if this is successful, we end up with the issues that are already infecting our operation. It is endemic and universal.

The biggest problem (to follow our analogy) is whether we can insert “anti-virus” into our personal software after the fact. We know it’s corrupt (even if we deny it). I believe that we inherently understand what is right and what is right. No matter how far we have fallen, a core of the original code is still deeply ingrained in our soul. Faith, whatever the belief system, involves allowing this uncorrupted part of ourselves to come to the surface.

Call it bad behavior. Call it pride. Call it sin. The worms that infect our soul are multiple and pervasive. The firewalls we install ultimately have to be personal. (There is no universal program that we can download.) We each have to do our own calculations. Either we want to be better and are ready to act on that belief (insert antivirus), or we will continue to impose errors on the system that exploits us.

Ultimately, we all have to find our own way to decrease our lower natures. I doubt that “fixing” these problems is possible without outside intervention. (I cannot fix my computer so I seriously doubt that I can “fix” it myself). My faith allows me both to ask for this help (however unworthy I may be) and to receive it with grace. It is the source of my ultimate antivirus and firewall.

Dave Clark is an entrepreneur and former Kingsport city councilor.


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