Politicians as Simulants: Who’s Fooling Who?
By Michael McCurleyAndroids, avatars, bots, robots, and simulants—It’s a brave new world out there —or is it somehow a new version of what we already know? Good question. The fact thattechnology changes or transforms what we understand is undeniable, but what we’velearned tends to provide a basis for new discoveries and applications—for what worksand doesn’t work. Politics has moved quietly to the forefront of roleplay applications,now and always, for good reasons and for not such good ones as well. The politician is asuperlative simulant.Role playing has reached new heights in computer simulation programs andgames, but it became common centuries ago, long before fiction in literature became popular or possible, before computers were ever conceived of or developed. Story telling,religious dramas, and ceremonial rites all involved role playing where people wouldrepresent and reenact the roles of other characters, either real or mythical. To achievetheir quests for power, leaders have taken on roles that supercede their functions as private individuals. Politics in one form or another has been used for power play infamilies, tribes, clans, villages, counties, cities, provinces, states, countries, and empires.The leaders of these groups, regardless of their functions or size, have taken on roles assimulants or representatives for whatever the structure of a particular group mightrequire. Elders, wise men, shamans, tribal chiefs, priests, witch doctors, councilmen,mayors, governors, law makers, sheriffs, congressmen, senators, board members, CEO’s, presidents, premiers, princes, kings, emperors, ambassadors, consuls, prefects, judges, principals, representatives, superintendents, administrators, managers, and supervisors— among many others—all have played roles that surpass their common heritage and affectthe greater interests of humanity in positive and negative ways. All leaders are politicianswho manage some sort of power and play roles that do not represent the private behavior of common citizens. The power given to a leader is ceded by the members of a particular community. Since it can be given, it can also be taken away (or it may end naturally). Allof this has an effect on the actions and behaviors of leaders who determine how a particular political system will function, govern itself, and choose its next leaders.The use of the term ‘simulant’ (not stimulant) for politics might be consideredrelatively new, but both the positive and negative roles of politicians as simulants have been practiced (without the term) for thousands of years. Use of the term ‘simulant’ iswell-known in the gemstone industry. Diamond simulants are natural, artificial, or synthetic materials that simulate the qualities of diamonds and may be used in producing jewelry, though sometimes can be used to fool unsuspecting clients. In chemistry and biology, certain chemical, biological, or nuclear simulants may be used in test kits for unknown substances, to replicate more dangerous compositions, without exposing the people who are learning about them to higher risk agents. In science fiction and role playing games, simulants may have humanoid characteristics, but are not distinctlyhuman for one or more reasons (since they may be android, alien, or robotic). In politicsas well, the role of a simulant is humanoid, without being entirely human—virtual in asymbolic sense, while still being quite physically real. More on that follows.