Having an inbuilt facility to distinguish between Us and Them was a valuable resource, related to that essential ability to create artificial groupings from what, to a robot, would be entirely distinct objects. We take this talent for granted, but what would life be like if we lacked it: if we were like Funes, the cripple created by Jorge Luis Borges in his story Funes the Memorious--a man with mental recall so powerful that he could not stand back and objectify what he saw? Funes saw each dog, each leaf, each cloud as sui generis: his inability to form categories left him utterly unable to make sense of the world.
December 7, 2005
How Do You Distinguish Between "Us" and "Them?"
The psychology of tribalism. From Scientific American: