Do machines have souls?
Forgive me for using the term “soul” because I don’t mean it in a disrespectful or religious manner – but for lack of a better term – I mean a life of its own.
I think we all agree machines have personalities and they invoke feelings and emotions in us and for many they can engender a bond between us – but we can also say the same thing about special places, special times and things that resonate with us. What is it about some manmade creations that occasionally resonate so well with us?
Perhaps it’s more accurate to suggest there are those physical manifestations their creators have imbued with their own life essence – and achieved such a clear focus – that those who relate to its purpose are connected through that physical entity to the creator – and that is the bond itself.
In other words, machines don’t have souls, but some masterpieces act as connectors or synapse between the creator and the beholder and this is the bond we feel with a machine.
Why wax so philosophical this morning? Yesterday’s post generated a lot of conversation that led me to start reminiscing about a few things I have always wanted: a restored 1963, saddle tan, split window, 327 fuel injected, 4-speed Corvette Stingray and a pair of pristine Infinity IRS V loudspeakers. I may never be able to own either, but these two standout as lifelong desires.
There are better cars, there are better loudspeakers, but none resonate with me more than these two because I feel a connection to their design and purpose that is so strong it cannot be shaken after all these years.
It’s perhaps instructive to note the two “machines” were works of art and recipients of the single mindedness, drive and passion of but a few individuals: Bill MItchell and Larry Shinodafor the Corvette and Arnie Nudell and Carrie Christie with the IRS. Sure there were plenty of others that contributed to their creations but they each were driven by a single vision to achieve a higher purpose.
I am sure you have your short list of machines that really connect you to the creator of the device in a very personal way.
As designers, we all strive to hit that mark where our creations take on a life of its own.
It’s rare, but every once in a while we get there.