Would a world ultimately free of choice be a better one?

On a daily basis, a person existing in the world makes thousands of choices. If every person in the world made the same number of choices then the numbers would be infinite. These choices determine everything from what sort of coffee they have in the morning to larger choices, should I change my chosen career?

Every choice has a result which spawns a myriad of new choices and the cycle perpetuates itself onwards. Choices themselves can sometimes be obstacles rather than avenues, but what would happen if there was no choice? What if choice never existed or was supplanted by some other entity?

The absence of choice, if undertaken by humans themselves can resemble a totalitarian regime. Choice would not exist because the government of the affected nation would not allow it to exist. That being said, the removal of choice using this means does not necessarily mean that it does not exist, merely it has been withdrawn from acceptable usage by the society.

The trains would run on time, people would display satisfaction in the work and in their lives for fear of the consequences. The government enforcing this would most likely be hard line government, pursuing a philosophy of suppression by political and sociological means.

A society which employs this method of choice removal may seem to be okay on the surface, but discontented elements would ultimately surface primarily due to the presence of one natural phenomenon: Free Will.

Free Will would be the splinter in the foot of the totalitarian regime and could likely lead to its overthrow. True absence of choice could only be accomplished if free will did not exist.

Artificial choice or free will removal could take two potential forms: The disassociation of humankind from the sphere of decision making or the removal of the in-built human ability to perceive choice.

Under the disassociation method, an entity or medium is required to take up the burden of choosing on mankind’s behalf. In today’s scientifically advanced age, the most fool proof way of doing this would be to create a supercomputer, ostensibly to balance and weigh all of the choices available for mankind. Other more localised disassociation methods would rely on individuals and individuals may not choose to proceed with the result of the external choice maker once made.

A supercomputer created to make choices for humanity would require a level of technology un-paralleled in human history and would undoubtedly involve the creation of advanced artificial intelligence. Choices exist outside of the world of black and white and it would take an artificial intelligence to truly appreciate the scope of the choice. This AI would learn from each choice and would take on a degree of omniscience typically associated with a god like entity.

That being said, this choice making computer could be used/manipulated for ends contrary to its intention, it could be used to manipulate a society into submission. On the flip side of the coin, humanity may be reluctant to apportion its free choice to a machine and could rebel against it. The need to be objective about this sort of development would necessitate its response.

The second method, the removal or suppression of the inbuilt ability of Mankind to perceive choice and act on it could be far more effective and far more attainable. Genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals could be used to negate the human ability to perceive choice or act on it much in the same way as an anti-depressant would. Great care needs to be taken with this method to ensure that the negation of choice by pharmaceutical means does not result in an inactive society which does not evolve or progress.

The pharmaceutical method would need to work in tandem with a strong government which pushes its individuals to interact with society. The individuals in charge of this government may need to be free of the need to medicate themselves to direct the medicated populous. In this society of divides, the medicated would essentially become a slave populous and the previously mentioned rebellion against this authority would occur.

The natural absence of choice is a virtual impossibility as the natural world is founded on the principle of choice. Evolution of a species occurs as a result of choice, natural selection occurs as a result of choice and so on. The only way that a natural absence of choice could work is if it only applied to humankind at this time. Other species would simply die out without the ability to choose.

Practically, the absence of choice from the human sphere of perception can be a great levelling force. Many people have so much choice that this forces them into procrastination, or the feeling that their current way of life is in some way not the correct one. A world free of choice would remove the possibility of changing your life to make you happier. Would an individual removed of choice be happier? Maybe, choices can cause uncertainty and without choice the uncertainty would not occur.

As explained previously, this absence of choice may have a potentially detrimental effect on mankind, humanity may simply stop doing things or inversely they may do the same thing over and over again until the species simply exhausts itself. Also the absence of choice doesn’t allow us to anticipate external events, for example a person would not dodge an oncoming car because they could not choose to. If you play this scenario out to its natural conclusion, the human race would be unable to prevent its own extinction simply because it would not be able to choose to.

Under this forced or unenforced absence of choice, humanity would struggle to exist. It is the desire to change, to improve to strive further and further that allows us to become the best of ourselves. A world which exists in this way is most likely to implode, leading to the extinction of mankind via external means or internally through inaction. A better world would not exist.


© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

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