Todd William

A Positivley Mind Blowing Thought Experiment

The Following is Entirely Paraphrased from the work of Daniel Dennett...

You wake up one morning and find yourself in a closed room without windows. You have a bathroom, and a food supply, everything you need to survive. You look around the room and see what seems to be thousands of tiny lights and buttons. Too many to count. Perhaps millions.
There is a letter that informs you of your situation. You are inside the head of a giant robot. You are in full control of this robot. The buttons you push control every possible imaginable function this robot can make – most functions requiring a combination of buttons. The lights flicker to give you feedback about what the robot experiences.
For instance, you push a series of buttons, and some part of the robot moves. As a result, a series of lights flicker indicating what the robot experiences.

The letter concludes that as long as you keep the robot alive, you will be kept alive (continually provided with food, water, etc). The only problem is that there is no explanation for what any button does, nor what any sequence of flickering lights represents. And since you cannot see outside this room, you have no physical manner of observing the robot.

Thus you are left having to figure out what buttons to push and how to interpret the feedback from the flickering lights on your own. You can push a massive series of buttons, but you only see a series of lights flickering.

You face a harsh reality. Without any external information, there is no basis for you to determine what any of the buttons do nor what any of the flickering lights represent. No amount of pattern recognition can ever tell you whether the data is positive or negative. It is theoretically impossible for you to keep this robot alive with anything short of blind luck.

And therein lies the paradox. Your predicament here is none other than your brain’s predicament! It is trapped in a windowless room – your skull – with millions of input lines positively humming with information about an external world it cannot see nor experience. It can only produce electrical impulses designed to stimulate muscles into contraction or relaxation. Yet you continue to survive.

Todd William

About Todd William -

My name is Todd William and I’m an indie author. I like to focus on the positives in life. I’m like kryptonite for cynics. I’m a dedicated father and husband, a science and tech buff, a psychology enthusiast, chess and MMA fanatic, and noble introvert. My biggest fault might just be that I’m annoyingly happy all the time.

I’m addicted to books. I read constantly on a variety of topics, the result being that I tend to know a little about a lot of things yet not a whole lot about any one thing. I lay no claim to superior wisdom. I merely have an unyielding appetite for knowledge coupled with a strong desire to contemplate intriguing thoughts.