The eternal and deceptive question, ‘what makes us human’ could be answered by science.
According to the Huffington Post, one argument is that “humans are unique because of things such as language, foresight, mind-reading, intelligence, culture, or morality.” In addition, “one of the key characteristics that makes us human appears to be that we can think about alternative futures and make deliberate choices accordingly.”
PBS Learning Media states that “a robot can be defined as a mechanical device that is capable of performing a variety of tasks on command or according to instructions programmed in advance.”
Most hold the view that robots are fundamentally different from humans. They cannot look forward into the future, question morality, or make choices according to such criteria. They are, in essence, lifeless machinations.
However, what if programming were to become so complex that memories, as understood by us, could be interpreted and applied. What if artificial intelligence were to become as sophisticated as us. The possibility of this happening is debatable, but for the purpose of inquiry, let us assume that it can.
Given that, how would such a program be treated? Would it be human? Something more or less? How would others see and treat it?
Min Gyu Yu, a Brooklyn Technical High School Student, believes that such a program, given an ability to comprehend memories, would still not be human, arguing, “Well, wouldn’t the robot not be able to produce any future emotions?”
As many people know, personality is greatly determined by one’s past experiences and memories, so we proposed that given the complexity to understand memories, and memories of its own, would such a program be able to create new memories, or even a personality?
Min Gyu replied, “Personality, my point of view is based on past experience so for the time being, maybe it can replicate our personality but what’s the point if the robot can’t learn and apply new things?” In other words, while it may have a personality and memories, artificial minds still wouldn’t be able to apply it to make decisions.
Taking this a step further, what if humans, in the future, were to advance so greatly in technology, that they could insert the brain of a human into a robot?
According to PopularScience.com, “The Pentagon hopes to create a brain-machine interface that will allow soldiers to control bipedal human surrogate machines remotely with their minds.” Would these robots still be considered human?
Mr. Lopez, a Digital Electronics teacher in Brooklyn Technical High School believes that these robots would not be considered human. “They would be considered as cyborgs.” When asked if the brain is the controller of the body why is a robot with a human brain not considered human, his response was “there’s more to being human than just a human brain.”
The answer to this question of artificial intelligence is indeed, very hard to answer, however, it seems as though society in general would only want to accept a human with a human body and mind, rather than accept a hybrid of human and robot characteristics, as human.