Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Evolving the Self: Thoughts on Wall-E

So, watching Wall-E with my kids I had a few thoughts. In the movie it's apparent that some of the robots (the more highly evolved one?) develop thoughts and feelings beyond their "directive" while others clearly do not.

For example, Auto, the ship's auto pilot, is unable to change his "directive" once the probe returns with plant life. It's most obvious of course at the end of the film when Eve has to repair Wall-E from the damage he suffered trying to get the people back to Earth. He doesn't remember Eve, or anything other than his primary function to compact garbage into cubes. It's not until a little Disney magic happens in the form of static electricity that he remembers and returns to his more conscious self.

So, my question is: Is humanity resigned to function in this same way? By that I mean, are there only a precious few of us capable/willing to move beyond the basic functions of living? Are all humans capable of evolving to Ken's higher levels or are only a few able? If everyone is capable, what keeps them from moving forward? If only a few are capable, what makes them that way? What do they have that the rest don't?

Let's say that Wall-E developed his unique personality from all the hundreds of years he spent functioning alone. His programming took on a life of it's own much like the various programs/characters in The Matrix, where programs/characters fight each other, take other programs hostage, develope their own purpose/functioning. The Oracle said: "What do all men with power want? More power." 

Now Eve, it is suggested in the film, was "turned" by Wall-E's quirky personality. She becomes more individual while in his trove of discarded treasures, most distinctly while watching a lighter burn. Was this paticular E.V.E. (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) unit special in some way, already susceptible to evolving independent thoughts and emotions? Would the movie have turned out differently if a less susceptible E.V.E. unit arrived in Wall-E's district? Or was it simply one enlightened being leading another toward a new space of existing? Is that the only way to evolve?

My guess is you will say that the answer lies somewhere in between. Susceptibility and a "mover" working together to move a single soul toward the light/truth. Though logic dictates that it must be at least possible to "move" without an outside teacher. Otherwise no one would ever progress. Those individuals probably had some kind of higher susceptibility in the first place, like Buddha. 

So, if some individuals have higher susceptibility, then it must be possible for others to have a much lower susceptibility making it all but impossible to "move." To answer my original question: while theoretically everyone is capable of evolving, only a certain percentage are susceptible enough to be guided to higher levels, some needing more guidance than others depending on their own level of susceptibility. (Oh, I think I've overdone it on the Ken Wilbur!)