Are the robots we create alive?

Fragment of a discussion from User talk:Sheldor
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But you did answer some of them.

That the idea a robot is alive is absurd. But what if a robot like T-850 really existed? The idea a robot is alive is still absurd?

According to the movie, it fulfills both of the criteria I cited above.

MN03:37, 26 February 2013

But as regards T-850, I don't really know what is going on, but from what I read on wikipedia, there is a robot that has living tissue surrounding it right? In that case, it would be sort of like moss growing on a rock. The rock isn't alive, but the moss on the rock is. Or were you referring to another aspect of T-850?

AW04:04, 26 February 2013

Didn't you watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day? Now I'm feeling old.

This movie is (was?) iconic, specially when you are talking about technological singularity.

MN04:42, 26 February 2013

I think it's more along the lines of: yeah, it's easy to just say "it's absurd" when comparing Java code to a human being. But it wouldn't be so easy to brush off as obvious with an uber-advanced cyborg that looks and acts human to the point you can't tell the difference. At that point, you need to really break it down with some logical arguments as to what defines life or consciousness.

Voidious04:09, 26 February 2013

Good points. I'd also like to add that people anthropomorphize (take that, Google) almost everything we see. People see the Terminator as "alive" to some degree simply because it walks and talks like a human. We almost certainly see it as more "alive" on a subconscious level than a supercomputer many times more intelligent just because it can speak.

Sheldor04:58, 26 February 2013

well, no, I don't think so. There's a difference between a) grasping intellectually that something is a robot and claiming that the logical distinction between robots and living substances corresponds to a real distinction and b) seeing the robot and having difficulty recognizing it as a robot rather than a human.

AW04:16, 26 February 2013

Please clarify.

Sheldor04:59, 26 February 2013

Hmm. So the terminology is from formal logic. What I'm trying to say is basically, once I know that T-850 is a robot, I can easily distinguish it from a human, at least at the level of thought. In this case, I would argue that the distinction in thought corresponds to a distinction in reality. However, I may not be able to come to a correct understanding of what T-850 is. This, however, does not change the argument, because then I lack a correct understanding of what I am classifying.

AW03:38, 27 February 2013

Ignore the organic covering.

At the end of the movie, the character was even learning about human values and started overriding it's own programming in order to protect mankind. A robot with free will and morality.

MN05:01, 26 February 2013

Ignoring the organic covering, I would say it's definitely not alive. (at least for now, I am quite happy using the negative entropy test for something being alive)

Since it's not alive, it's not human. :)

But since you brought it up, I would also mention that there are qualitative differences between humans' intellects and computers' precessing power. A computer is basically a bunch of rocks (or tinker toys ( arranged in a particular way. You can have them find 2^10 but they don't have an UNDERSTANDING of 2 or 10. (Using more terminology from formal logic: They lack the ability to abstract particulars to form universals; they can't have simple comprehensions.)

AW03:44, 27 February 2013

It doesn't need to be organic to fulfill negentropy. That's why this definition is meaningful on a robot discussion.

Also, the movie makes it quite clear the machines (from the future) are on their own.

And also made it quite clear they are sentient due to some chip designed in a way humans never thought about, until they scavenged one from a terminator.

MN04:25, 27 February 2013

If we use negentropy to define life, by definition, if it fulfils negentropy, it is organic. (according to Google's dictionary anyways, Merriam Webster suggests some other definitions, but I think they would come to the same thing)

So though I don't don't necessarily accept the negentropy criteria as a satisfactory definition, but for the time being, I'll work with it.

As regards the last two points, remember, I never saw the movie.

Could you explain how the machines being on their own is significant?

What I'm saying is that you can't arrange a bunch of rocks in such a way that they are sentient. Movies can be made where vegetables can talk, but that doesn't mean it can really happen.

AW02:59, 28 February 2013

We know extremely little about how consciousness physically works. While it is intuitively hard to believe, it is possible that any sufficiently intelligent system could be conscious, even if it is made of rocks (or tennis balls).

I see no reason why plants couldn't eventually develop some form of communication if their environment required it.

Sheldor03:05, 10 March 2013

I was taught in school organic substances were those composed mostly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

The machines being on their own and still surviving is a sign of negative entropy.

Using sentience as criterion is problematic because it can't be tested. But I had to bring it here because the discussion was already heading towards philosophy.

Negentropy, on the other side, is a much more concrete criterion, and the broadest definition of life I know of. We could stick to the classic cell criterion, but then it would be too easy to answer the question which started the whole discussion with a no.

MN05:09, 28 February 2013

I wouldn't use sentience since I consider plants to be alive. As regards negentropy, I didn't research this very much, but I couldn't see exactly how they decide where to define the system as closed. Could you try to explain that to me please?

AW16:26, 5 March 2013