What would a robot think about the meaning/purpose of its existence? I expect it would conclude, after much pondering, that obeying its programming is its purpose, as that is what would satisfy it, and that is what it is driven to do. It might decide that what its programmed to do is eternal, to deal with issues of its programming having no purpose or serving another purpose.
If it was designed to obey its creator, it would find purpose in that. Regardless what the creator commanded, the robot would, if designed properly, find greatest satisfaction in obedience. This robo-philosopher would probably decide that obedience to his master’s will and his master’s will itself are two eternal meanings behind the universe.
This sounds really creepy to me. Is the robot free? It doesn’t even care what commands it obeys, it simply desires to obey its creator. That doesn’t sound like freedom, though it is doing as it desires. It is still choosing its unquestioning obedience, its just that its an obvious choice to the robot.
I suppose it’s creepy because such mindless obedience, for me, is denying my self, though for the robot it is being true to itself. We aren’t made for that. We know obedience has to gain its meaning from what it obeys, and need to know this meaning. We cannot obey and simply trust in its meaning.
The reason the robot isn’t free is that it doesn’t know why it obeys. Not really. It believes from its own nature that obedience is its meaning, and it may reason that its master’s will must therefore be meaningful, but it doesn’t understand its master’s will or the meaning of its master’s will. It must work blindly. It has choice, undoubtedly. But it has no freedom because it doesn’t even know the worthiness that it serves.
But, thankfully, the human relationship with God isn’t like that [if it is according to any religion I’d be fascinated to know]. God lives in us. God is love. Our purpose is not obedience to God, it is to live in God and live in love, which are the same (1John 4:16).
It is because God is in us, and that we know Him, that we are free when we obey Him. We do not obey what we don’t know, we obey and follow Him that we know and love as the meaning of our lives.
“He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.”
God bless you.
P.S. here’s a thought related to robots: if scientists found a simple robot on Mars, they would assume it was designed, and ask it to lead them to the far more complex and advanced product of natural accidents that designed the simple robot.
God bless you.