The {Surprise-Cohesion} Continuum

On one end, you have an explosion; on the other, you have a rock. Things we consider living have both: enough surprise that you know it’s not dead, but enough cohesion that you can tell it’s the same thing from moment to moment. Not enough surprise, and I’ll seem dumb or boring to you. Not enough cohesion, and I’ll seem insane. With too much surprise, you can’t individuate the thing: if my cell phone changed so much that one second later it looked like a beach, then I wouldn’t even be able to recognize [it] as a thing. For me to think of a thing as a thing, it has to be changing slowly enough for me to recognize it from moment to moment. But for me to think of a thing as living, it has to change quickly enough—and substantially enough—that I’m surprised.

The {Surprise-Cohesion} Continuum

Who’s doing the wanting?

When I think about things like this, a question that pops up is: who’s doing the wanting? If I’m being run as part of someone else’s experiment, and I want to communicate with my creator, imagine that from the creator’s point of view: I write a program. I want to write a program so I go to a computer and write a program. I’m doing the wanting, right? But maybe not. Maybe the thing that I program is doing the wanting. Maybe that future thing wants me to go to a computer and build it.

Just like sex: who’s doing the wanting? Am I doing the wanting? I want the girl, so I do xyz to get her. I’m doing the wanting. But not entirely. The baby we might have is doing the wanting. The baby wants to be born, or “biology” wants to further itself. I, the individual, am not in control. I want to eat, but I’m not the only one who wants me to eat. People want to make artificial intelligence. But, someday, it might be clear that the reason we wanted to do that was that whatever it is we eventually create—that next species that rises above us—wanted us to.

If you believe in god: why did god create us? God has no idea. He just wanted to. But why did he want to? Because we wanted to exist.

Who’s doing the wanting?