WALL-E and Darwinism

I came across a really interesting article on Jonah Lehrer’s blog The Frontal Cortex, looking at WALL-E from the point of view of one of Darwin’s less publicized theories.

I’m not talking about evolution or natural selection. As I watched WALL-E , I couldn’t help but think about Darwin’s last major work, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. […] [Darwin argues] that emotions themselves—that most ethereal of psychological experiences—are creations of evolution, just like the beaks of finches and the shells of mollusks.

What does this have to do with WALL-E? Well, the robots evolve emotion, don’t they? Left to his own devices on an abandoned earth, WALL-E, a generic robot with emotionless default programming, gains a personality, curiosity, and eventually even love. Lehrer’s article goes into the specifics of Darwin’s theories a little more, and is worth reading, but to sum up his conclusion, “because [WALL-E’s] intelligent designers gave him the ability to express his emotions – he’s got those adorable binocular eyes – they also unwittingly gave him the ability to experience his emotions.” Quite an interesting idea.

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