I am a robot. That was the thought that filtered through consciousness as I did tai chi this morning. It’s hard to ignore the evidence of it, either. Something like ten months ago I began this process of doing a daily tai chi routine, and worked my brain hard to memorize the forms. That’s like writing software for e robot: it has to know how to move along x, y and z axes, rather like the 3D printer in my design lab. At first, the robot arms didn’t move properly. I’ve spent months debugging the software so it performs the correct actions, at least most of the time. I’ve built the hardware and installed some updates to the firmware so the program runs more smoothly — built lung capacity and musculature so that I can move through the form more slowly. I’ve learned to keep going at the work, too, mirroring a robot’s uncomplaining endurance — though I haven’t solved the complaining bug yet.
That seems to be part of the overall operating system.
Underlying all of this, though, this morning in particular, was the sense that “I” — my ego, the voice that I think of as the primary monologue in my head — was no longer running the tai chi program. Or maybe it never did, it just pretended to do so. I came awake this morning, and thought, “more sleep please,” even as my legs were swinging out of bed to do tai chi. And once my feet were on the floor tai chi was inevitable.
Willpower is a funny thing. I’ve successfully replaced one program, that of sleeping in and getting no exercise, with a program that runs tai chi. But now, apparently, it would take another act of willpower to write a different program, which would let me sleep in.
Welcome to personal robotics 101.