In the movie, I, Robot; a “self- aware” robot is being drilled by an investigator for a murder. The detective asks him the following:
“Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a… canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?”
To which the robot sarcastically replies, Can “you”?
So what makes a machine an individual? What drives us to name our cars or computers or electronic devices? Have you ever got that feeling that they’re judging the things you do or watching your actions, even though they’re inanimate objects with no objectivity? These questions are fundamental questions when looking at the way that we rationalize the thought processes of computers in anthropomorphic terms. If we had to, where would we place the “soul” in a computer, and how does it rationalize?
The answer to this question is easy enough: in the CPU or motherboard that controls all of the actions of the computer, in a way much similar to the brain. But these CPU’s aren’t identical; in fact each one has a serial code and is made the same way as millions of CPU’s before, and are put in millions of identical pieces of technology. However, without electricity and someone to turn it on; the computer is lifeless- at least humans have the choice of when they want to wake up, sometimes. It seems like we’re going to have to delve a little deeper to figure this one out.
If it’s not the CPU, then what drives a computer to be more human? Is it the programs that we teach our computers to do daily? Is it the BIOS system that prepares all the files? Is it the files themselves that help us connect with our technology? Or maybe just the inputs we put in; with our keyboards, mouses and thumb drives?
The reality is that it’s hard to define where a piece of technology gets it’s individualism. Maybe it’s all the shared files of information that document all of your personal information; maybe it’s the lexicon of information, providing updates and important information and upgraded files that makes a computer more life-like. But don’t humans have the same characteristics?
As people, we are defined by our collective lexicon of information. We derive our personal choices from group knowledge of topics; we make our choices based on habits that have been ingrained to us. Our decision making processes come from neurotransmitters in our own CPU unit (our brains); and all of our organs work to supplement it- very much like the wires and pieces that operate independently in a computer or car or machine to keep it driving forward.
In a nutshell, the topic of “self” is as difficult for humans to define as it is for computers. If you transplanted a person’s brain into another individual with all their thoughts and memories, would they be the same person? Scientists have discovered that the main reason we think the way we do is because of our cognitive DNA strains sending information to our synapses “programming” our beliefs; and our “inputs” processing what’s around us because of influences of the environment, food, stress, disease, and pretty much anything else you could think of. Our “software” strives us to learn and execute applications for a limited time; no different than a computer.
Taking a deeper look at advanced and complicated technology allows us to reflect a bit on the soul. We have as little understanding of our “selves” as we do of our computer “selves”. We can name the parts, and understand what they do; but we may never grasp their full extent. What’s important to remember is that we, as humans, have breathed our life into computers- extending the analogy that we don’t just live life; that we ARE life.
Source: Collective- Evolution
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