Who wrote the Software Running in your Head?

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

Like any software running on hardware today, the original program usually seems to work pretty well. Yet over time, things slow down. Glitches occur. It freezes up. Ultimately, we are left with a process that gives us erroneous answers and can lead to poor decisions and detrimental results. (That sure sounds like the mechanism inside my noggin).

Musk then asked, “Are you sure you actually want it there?”

This seems to recognize that the “code” is somehow flawed and might have a deleterious impact on our lives. Mine certainly has its defects. The real question is if they were imbedded in the original data or whether somewhere along the way we have allowed it to be infected and corrupted.

My Faith tells me clearly who wrote the software and that it was “flawless” at its inception. The “corruption” of the program seems to have started immediately. We were created in a perfect world, and we “chose” a course that led us into the imperfect world in which we live. We simply could not resist temptation. Apparently, this was the first “worm” (or rather snake) we allowed to infect our software.

Musk also stated, “The overarching problem is that we need better mental firewalls for the information constantly coming at us.” This comment is relevant but simultaneously both trivial and insightful. On the surface, we find ourselves constantly bombarded with information in our daily lives. In the past fifty years we have gone from a few major radio and television stations to 24/7 cable outlets to innumerable sources of streaming (and screaming) input.

Unfortunately, the quality of much of the information we receive is dubious at best. Sadly, we have lost our ability to objectively ascertain the validity of what we receive. We have “facts” and “alternative facts.” As one reporter put it, “Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” The primary casualty is “truth,” which as my mother put it…”is in the eye of the beholder.”

Do we need better filters? Absolutely! Unfortunately, the filters we pick are themselves often chosen according to our own personal biases rather than their objective utility.

This is simply a new way for our fallen nature to expose itself. We have always been susceptible to the falsehoods, wishful thinking and outright personal deception when it seem to elevate us closer to the center of the universe. Our species seem uniquely driven to be more God-like and usually not in the biblical sense (Godly, as in more like God).

Rather, we have an innate desire to pursue things that appear to promote personal happiness or that builds our social status and wealth. Over the millennia, humans have striven to acquire knowledge and power in our efforts to become omniscient and omnipotent. Yet, it is the upmost of arrogance and hubris for people to think that we can control nature and humanity.

The more our pride drives us, the more we corrupt the software running in our head. As we pervert the program, we begin to degrade our moral compass. The insidious effect is to blur the lines between right and wrong.

The firewalls we install may be able to filter information and mitigate future errors. However, even if this is successful, we are left with the problems that already infect our operation. These are endemic and universal.

The larger issue (to follow our analogy) is whether we can insert an “anti-virus” after-the-fact into our personal software. We know it is corrupt (even as we deny it). I believe we inherently understand what is right and fair. No matter how far we have fallen, a kernel of the original code is still deeply imbedded in our soul. Faith, no matter one’s belief system, entails allowing that uncorrupted piece of ourselves to come back to the surface.

Call it bad behavior. Call it pride. Call it sin. The worms that infect our soul are manifold and pervasive. The firewalls we install must ultimately be personal. (There is no universal program we can download.) We must each come to our own reckoning. Either we desire to be better and are willing to act on that belief (insert the anti-virus) or we will continue to impose errors on the system operating us leaving us the endless “do loop” of self-indulgence and the spiral into depravity.

This assessment may seem harsh. More often than not we like to believe we act respectably (if we even stop to thinks about it). Yet, the human history is replete with wars, inhumanity and deceit (at least collectively). Certainly, there are Mother Teresas, but they seem few and far between. Regardless of what we may believe about ourselves, truly we are all deeply flawed.

Ultimately, we must all find our own way to diminish our lesser nature. I doubt that “fixing” these problems is possible without some outside intervention. (I can’t fix my computer so I doubt seriously that I can “fix” myself). My Faith allows me to both ask for that help (as unworthy as I may be) and receive it with grace. That is the source of my antivirus and the ultimate firewall.

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