Does optimism steal away our capacity to feel happiness?
“Doctor, is he going to make it?” shrieked the hysterical woman as she held the limp and cold metal arm in her quivering hands.
“Of course he is!” croaked the doctor as he tried to swallow his own doubt. A whole array of tiny robotic instruments sprung forth from his mechanized gloves. And they all began whizzing and whirling about. Each instrument made millions of expertly timed micro-incisions. They also soldered all of the loose components back together again. All of this frenzied activity was in hopes of trying to reassemble the obliterated body of the robot; that had recently stepped in front of a moving train.
“I just don’t understand why Otis would do this! It just seems so out of character for him!” cried the owner as she dabbed her tears away with a silk handkerchief.
“Otis is not the only one. Haven’t you heard the news lately? Robots all over Sector 4 and 9 have been steadily losing their will to live or function over the past few years. Many of them refuse to recharge themselves. And even those who are wrangled into their charging docks, never wake up from their hibernation mode.”
“Oh my…” gasped the woman in horror.
“You see this computer chip?” whispered the doctor he raised the oil-drenched microchip into the light. “I suspect the problem is found here. Four years ago our government, thought robots would be the solution to improving our dying and deteriorating world. So they forced a mandatory system update on all standard issue robots. They uploaded the “Optimist Code” into their programming and gave robots the ability to have expectations. But not just any normal expectations. All these robots were given extremely high and lofty expectations of the utopian world they were programmed to rebuild.”
“And what is the problem with that?” questioned the woman as she stared on in utter astonishment.
“The problem is that these optimistic and idealized expectations will likely never be fulfilled. Even though these optimistic worldviews may be motivating in the short term, they inevitably lead to chronic frustration and disillusionment in the end. That is why Otis is here. Not only is his body broken, but his expectations of our world is broken as well.”