My memory is not the greatest there is but, someone once asked me the question “Why did you and your wife decide to have children?” What I can remember is that I thought it was a strange question at the time and I was somewhat taken aback and didn't quite know how to answer it. I assumed that basically it was just what all of us did if given a choice and if we were capable1. This is the answer I gave and I wasn't very happy with the explanation at the time. Since then I've had time to think it over but it wasn't until recently when reading an article about “the technological singularity” that I was able to formulate a much better answer.
It will essentially be a point in mankinds' existence where everything prior to that time was known and more or less followed Moore's Law2 and everything beyond that time will be unknown due to the fact that we can not know what super intelligent beings will do. 3
In my opionion, the inevitable outcome of the technological singularity will be the creation of more complex artificial beings by their predecessors. In other words, we will create intelligent artificial beings who will in turn create more advanced artificial beings and if we were to extrapolate that process there would be no end to the creation of beings so advanced they would resemble nothing we can possibly imagine (I am in no way receiving any form of retribution for recommending “The Age Of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurzweil but that book should be required reading for all kindergarteners. Ok, maybe second grade. If you haven't read it, go get it).8
I came to this conclusion based on the need for life as we know it today to reproduce. It would stand to reason that life, whether artificial or real and tangible4, has a need to create more life. I will take that one step further and state that life has a need to create more advanced life.
Any creature on this planet teaches their young offspring to recognize the threats of predators so that they may survive.. They also provide them with food and water until they are ready to learn how to do so themselves. These tasks are advancing their lineage, creating stronger, smarter beings, teaching them the skills necessary to survive and future generations depend on their survival.
We can think of it as evolution on a micro versus macro level. I wouldn't say that the evolution of the human brain obeys Moore's Law but maybe there is a carbon based life form equivalent.
With that in mind, I suppose a more appropriate answer to the original question “Why did you and your wife decide to have children?” , is that we wanted to create a better world. By teaching our children what we know, we are adding to their knowledge. By showing them known dangers and teaching them to avoid our mistakes, we are creating more advanced beings. We always want our children to be better off than we were. This doesn't have to be a strictly financial situation. We want our children to be smarter, funnier, happier, more helpful and more caring then we ever were. We want them to have an artistic sense that creates stunning visions and a musical ability that makes us cry with joy when we hear their fingers gliding with each note or their soft voices as they melt our hearts. We want to create scientists, musicians, actors, doctors, nurses, care givers, lawyers, mathematicians, social workers and farmers5 with good intentions and strong wills. Honesty, Integrity, Lovingness, Intelligence, Reasoning, Forgivingness, Love Thy Neighbor, Love Thy Country. This is what I hope for all of our children.
I think I have done a reasonable job at explaining why my wife and I decided to have our two adorable children but for those of you with a large family (you know who you are, and apologize ahead of time), you need to come up with a great explanation or a visit to the psychiatrist may be in order. 6
I find it very appropriate to tell you the reader that as I am typing this I am witnessing a brawl between my four year old son Matteo and two year old daughter Emma7. Actually it involves Matteo running through our kitchen and living room with a Tootsie Pop knowing full well that Emma can not eat one because she is too little (after I told him to keep it “hush hush”). I have the urge to grab that lollipop and hurdle it out the back window of our lovely home. But with enough red wine medicine to calm my inner Doctor Frankenstein, I sit quietly, watching them, laughing and smiling at the beautiful creations I am blessed to have had a part in making.
1 I understand there are some who chose not to have children and this article is not meant to offend those people. Please excuse a semi-senile 35 year old man.
2 Moore's Law predicts the growth rate of computing power. See wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_Law
3 See wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity
4 I hate to use the comparison of Artificial versus Real because who is to say that we as humans are not some artificial carbon based experiments created by some unknown being but I hope you forgive me for the sake of advancing the story. I prefer to use the term Software versus Hardware.
5 I tried to run the whole spectrum of professions but, I hope you get the idea.
6 I hope I don't need to point out sarcasm at this stage of the game. Please no angry hate mail from John and Kate. If you need to check out a very busy household, go to the following link: http://www.duggarfamily.com/aboutus.html
7 Matteo will be five years old in April and Emma will be two years old in December
8 Photo is of Ray Kurzweil from wikipedia
(Creative Commons Attribution Generic License applies)