Channels ▼

Jocelyn Paine

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

How to Eliminate Boredom at Work

August 16, 2010

What is the point of consciousness? Windows manages to decide things, even things about its own self-monitoring such as which process to run next, without being conscious. As do all other computer programs. So why does the brain need to be conscious in order to make decisions? Or at least, why does the brain believe that it needs to be conscious in order to make decisions, I ask as I gaze at this text and mull over the merits of extending my finger to hit ENTER and thereby make the lines shorter and easier to read in my editor. Some researchers say consciousness is an epiphenomenon: an accidental by-product, in this case a by-product of neural activity, giving us the illusion of free will when in fact we can only rationalise the decisions that unconscious brain processes have already generated.

But what is the good of an epiphenomenon that leaves you bored for five sevenths of your days? When I say "you", I'm not talking about the Mark Nelsons and the Jon Ericksons of this world, nor about the Web designers and company-report programmers enthusiastically coding their boss's latest typographic whim. I'm talking about the rice farmers, the call-centre operatives, and the people who toil in New York's garment sweatshops in order that you can buy tacky socks at ONLY!!! £0.99 per pair from ███████ (shop name deleted on legal advice). The people who slog through jobs they endure merely to survive. It is strange that an epiphenomenon can want to torpedo survival.

But I have discovered some exciting research that will give me — if I am like its author — the experience that "decisions just happen with no sense of anyone making them". I reckon that if there is no "me" experiencing the lead-up to these decisions, there'll be no boredom either. I will just sit quietly and watch myself act, as I might watch the programmer at the neighbouring terminal. For more information, please read psychologist and memeticist Susan Blackmore's It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will. Banish boredom at work for ever!

 


Jocelyn Paine
popx@j-paine.org

Related Reading


More Insights






Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.
 


Video