Excuse me for a moment I am crying over robots.
a while ago I read about soldiers in Iraq crying when their bomb-dismantling robot, which followed them on every mission, was destroyed in the line of duty.
They named it, put stickers on it, and took care of it. Then, when it served its purpose, some people wondered why they expressed such emotions for a soulless machine, some even needing counseling akin to losing friends.
I don’t believe in souls, I believe a human functions without any ethereal influence and that’s miraculous enough as it is, a ‘soul’ being more of a metaphorical description of traits than anything. What exactly is to say souls aren’t what we imbue upon these ‘soulless machines’ when they help us like we help those we love? What is a soul but what value others place in you- not just in what you offer them, but in an interest in your happiness too? There’s a kind of depersonalization going on- obviously the robot just was following orders of it’s controller- but it’s impossible for people to not be thankful/place value in things that help us live or make our lives richer I guess.
Issac Asimov was an atheist but his writings were the first in science fiction history to suppose not just that ‘machines have feelings/emotion’, but rather that we as humans are only very refined organic machines, a summation of chemical processes without a ‘soul’, something that we have that nothing else does. Where exactly lies the point of difference in complexity or I daresay “lack of understanding how it’s built” where it descends into “magic”? It’s obvious that the only reason we don’t have Datas running around is because we don’t know how yet. Think about it, though- Is the love and attachment or motivation those soldiers felt for their robots any less real than what they felt for, say, a working dog? Does a pet owner love their simple goldfish less than they would a highly trained dog? Would you say a lazy cat that doesn’t even dismantle bombs has a soul where that robot doesn’t? And if we had robots like Data, would our attachment to them emotionally not be all the ‘soul’ they really need to make them real to us? Where does the line begin?
I mean, after all…