April 13, 2005

Philosophy And Theology of Robots

Why robots are scary--and cool | Newsmakers | CNET News.com

A professor at St. Bonaventure University talks about her new book on robotics and philosophy/theology. It's a fascinating topic: what would make something other than human, human. I'm reminded of a Spider Robinson short story from his Callahan's series. In this story, a species called the Krundai have manipulated humanity for thousands of years. The representative Krundai claims that humans are not worth saving, because we lack a certain quality that they can't describe -- we are "less-than-Krundai". I wonder if similarly, talking about robots and what it would take to make them sentient would be a similar discussion; current human thought is that they would lack a human quality, but we can't describe it. So, would robots be less-than-human, or would they be different than humans in such a way as to make them inaccessible to human minds, but not lesser? Are they less-than-human, more-than-human, or just different-than-human? Is Data a toaster, or a living being that is different from us?

Posted by Ted Stevko at April 13, 2005 11:39 AM | TrackBack