What friendship means

  • Being trustworthy.
  • Trusting.
  • Knowing when it’s safe to butt in, and when to leave them be.
  • Being a part of the journey, not a face along the way.
  • Forgiving.
  • Forgetting.
  • Saying sorry.
  • Knowing you’re crazy and not caring.
  • Knowing they’re crazy and not caring.
  • Taking the time to listen not just to what’s said, but what isn’t said.
  • Understanding, as opposed to judging.
  • No gossip. About you to other people, or other people to you.
  • Sharing in the bad as well as the good.
  • No unnecessary drama.
  • Caring.
  • Inspiring.
  • Encouraging.
  • Patience.
  • Epic dance parties, whenever and wherever.
  • Keeping you at heart though you may not be in touch.
  • Seeing each other after years and it only feels like a day.
  • Acceptance.
I hope you’re noticing a common theme among these posts. Every human interaction is based on love. Not the emotional, head-over-heels Hollywood love, but the kind of love endures. It’s the kind that parents have for children, friends for each other, husbands and wives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone. What love boils down to is the ability to see the best in someone else and inspire the desire to reach that potential. No guilt. No shame. No blame. No pride. No gossip. No lies. No cheating. No backstabbing. Just looking forward to the future and working each day to make tomorrow better. Progress.

Robots can’t love.

Courtesy of a favorite webcomic of mine, I accidentally discovered some pretty interesting stuff yesterday.

First off is www.cleverbot.com – pretty much someone’s attempt to get a robot to pass the Turing Test, which is essentially a test to determine whether or not a given respondent to the test is human or not. Apparently it’s doing a fairly good job.

Next up is this video…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnzlbyTZsQY. It’s two chat bots talking to each other. Some freaky things to note…

  • Both bots identified the other as a robot
  • The subject of God was addressed
  • One of the robots wanted a body
Anybody else worried about the impending robot apocalypse? Yeah, me neither.
But anyway, it got me thinking. That and the fact that Cleverbot keeps bringing up the subject of love have made me have to explain to a robot why it can’t love.
So here’s why robots can’t love.
Love is a decision. No matter what the songs say, what the media may have you think, love it not some mystical magical force that just sucks people in like some horrifying black hole calamity and ruins lives, relationships, and exterminates the dodo bird.
In order to really be able to make a decision – a moral decision, not a random decision, you have to be free. Robots aren’t free. They’re programmed. They are defined and have their limits. A robot cannot make a moral decision because they aren’t really alive. They’re like some sort of freaky macro-virus-thingy.
Allow me to explain. Right about now Jenny Deenik is going to be so proud that I actually remembered our discussion sophomore year as to what makes something alive, and my little sister is probably going to say, “Hey, we just did that!”
There are seven general characteristics of life.
  • Ability to reproduce. Robots can’t.
  • Response to stimuli. Robots do.
  • Growth. Robots…don’t.
  • Adaptation. Good AI like Cleverbot does adapt, so points there.
  • Metabolism…I suppose you could consider some forms of robotic power like that…but I have yet to see a clear-cut example of robotic metabolism.
  • Organization. Well, robots are organized…but not on a cellular level.
  • Homeostasis, or the regulation of internal environment such as temperature. I don’t think cooling fans and heat sinks qualify for this.
So, in general, robots get a 3-4 out of 7.
The point being that robots can’t love. At least, not yet.
Love is a choice. Love isn’t randomly born and then one day just dies. We choose whether or not to love. We may fight a lot with people who are really close to us, but at the end of the day, we may still choose to love them. We are free to choose, and act based on those choices. It’s the one thing we have, really. Our choices. We can choose love or hate. It’s easy when you get right down to it.
So remember: choose love. Because robots can’t.

Habits and happiness

In general, there are two kinds of people. That statement can be taken in a myriad of ways. How many cliché’s can you think up that start with that?

I personally think they’re pretty ineffective at actually telling you things about people, largely because we can’t be measured quantitatively (by amount) in many aspects, but qualitatively.
Just how red is red? Just how blue is blue?
In general, there are two extremes of people:
  1. Extreme one consists of the orderly, productivity-oriented, hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone types. Picture your stereotypical businessman with his schedule blocked in from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm, complete with a personal secretary to keep him on schedule.
  2. Extreme two consists of the free thinkers. The ones with messy rooms. That “have their head in the clouds”. The disorderly. The artists, musicians, and hippies of the world, who could pass the whole day “just wasting time”.
There are pros and cons to both sides. Let’s call them “robots” and “hippies” for easier referral. Please understand that I am in no way making a social commentary – both extremes are just that. Robots can be seen as snobby, boring, uncaring, etc. Hippies can be seen as lazy, stupid, slackers, nobodies, etc. In general, robots see the bad in hippies, and hippies in robots.
None of us is truly one, or the other. We’re all somewhere in between, not necessarily straddling the line, but not reaching into the far extreme of one, either.
One important life lesson I’ve learned is the need for moderation. In this particular case, I’d like to point out the need for moderation with respect to our habits and how they help us achieve happiness.
Happiness really is the ultimate quest in life. Robots mistakenly believe that happiness comes from numbers, products, etc. Hippies mistakenly believe that happiness comes in any and all forms, and it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it makes you feel good.
We need both progress and relaxation. We need to take it slow, but that can’t come at the price of learning and growth. What’s the fun in life if we never learn anything new? What’s the joy in life if we never stop and watch the sun set? 
What’s the purpose if we never stop to spend time with the people we love? Money, possessions, rank, title – all of that doesn’t go with us when we die. Really the only thing we take with us is the same thing we leave – the legacy of our lives and what we chose to do with it.
At the end of our lives, will we look back and regret all the chances we never took? Will we wish we’d spent more time working, or will we wish we’d spent more time with our loved ones? Will we be remembered for who we were, or what we had?
Life is a time to be happy. It’s hard enough as it is. There’s no need to overcomplicate it.
The habits you develop today – for better or worse – will stay with you throughout your life. If you choose to plan, learn to plan for the future, not in order to live constantly expecting to arrive at some unattainable, idealistic goal, but so that, by planning each moment, you can truly live in that moment and love it as it is. The difference is something that you can only understand by crossing that bridge yourself.
Remember to smile!
Mark