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#1 Edited by Life_Without_Progress (24625 posts) - - Show Bio
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So, I've watched Alex Garland's "Ex Machina" movie from a few months ago in a Philosophy Class (Very good movie, by the way). This was a question that the professor asked the class to answer because of the movie's themes and I think this would be an interesting topic to talk about in this site.

So...

If a robot was programmed to act like a self aware being, would you call it a self aware being or just appears to be?

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#2 Edited by GodSaveMeNow (950 posts) - - Show Bio

Stuff like these almost always need to start with the definition of the terms.

Specifically for this topic: what is the detailed definition of a "living being"?

IMO, living being needs to be able to think and react to the environment with sufficient complexity. Sufficiently complex actions in my definition would be to have a different specific action for each different stimuli. E.g.: if a fly encounters some sweet liquid, it will attempt to suck it up. If the fly encounters nothing wet and smells nothing revolting, it will just buzz around. All of these with its evasive reaction always ready.... Unless its body had been deprived of sleep which it would move slower.

All these actions are done through its very primitive so-called brain, meaning this creature is making decisions whether by instinct or not.

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#3 Posted by Life_Without_Progress (24625 posts) - - Show Bio

@namtab_god: Looking back at it, the topic wasn't more about living, more about self awareness. The movie discusses the topic in a way like this:

Would this robot be actually aware of the consequences of it's actions or just appears to know the consequences of it's actions and will act correspondingly? Does this robot actually want to look pretty for others or was it just programmed to make it appear that it wants to look pretty for others? Is this robot capable of manipulating others on it's own free will or because it's creator programmed it to do so?

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#4 Posted by MyLittleFascist (31711 posts) - - Show Bio

I suppose it really just depends on how well it can keep up the act. I mean... I don't think there is any way to truly prove self-awareness in humans, let alone machines.

Sure, everyone thinks they are self-aware, but what if acting like you are self-aware and thinking you are self-aware is just part of your biological programming?

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#5 Posted by Outside_85 (23518 posts) - - Show Bio

If it just programmed to act like it's self-aware, then I am not going to treat it as if it actually is, because it isn't.

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#6 Posted by Batman242 (11892 posts) - - Show Bio

Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.

Programmed or not, based on the definition given, I'd say it's self-aware. Who knows whether or not humans are "programmed" to be self-aware? Either way, it wouldn't make it less true that we are.

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#7 Posted by tparks (11807 posts) - - Show Bio

I couldn’t think of a machine as anything but a machine.

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#8 Posted by GodSaveMeNow (950 posts) - - Show Bio

@namtab_god: Looking back at it, the topic wasn't more about living, more about self awareness. The movie discusses the topic in a way like this:

Would this robot be actually aware of the consequences of it's actions or just appears to know the consequences of it's actions and will act correspondingly? Does this robot actually want to look pretty for others or was it just programmed to make it appear that it wants to look pretty for others? Is this robot capable of manipulating others on it's own free will or because it's creator programmed it to do so?

The idea of self-awareness crossed my thoughts too when I typed out my previous post.

However, I hesitate to include self-awareness as a requirement to be a "living thing". Many tiny bugs aren't self-aware and mostly act on instinct.

Now that you have changed the OP title, the whole topic had a fundamental change!

IMO, the key definition now is more questionable on the word "act" rather than on "self-awareness", since the "self-awareness" term is rather specific and clear.

How does one "act" self-aware? We haven't actually imagined a real life example of something that can consistently "act" self-aware. And what is "act"? Visually observable actions? Or does it include "mentally observable" thoughts? ("mentally observable" meaning the likes of computer brain scientists can read mental input from this artificial being and determine it to be self-aware)

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#9 Posted by deactivated-5c07a0327fd39 (4596 posts) - - Show Bio

The sentience of another being in unknowable.

For all you know, you could be a brain in a vat and everything you see (including me) is just a program in your brain.

Cogito ergo sum.

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#10 Posted by Yassassin (7701 posts) - - Show Bio
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#11 Posted by Wut (7055 posts) - - Show Bio

I would call it by whatever name it has. Also human looking robots are creepy (in fact, humans think things that look near human are creepy). Keep them looking mechanical, tyvm.

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#12 Edited by deactivated-5a84a212043e5 (2790 posts) - - Show Bio

Why dont you just ask the robot?

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#13 Posted by deactivated-5c901e667a76c (36557 posts) - - Show Bio

Star Trek TNG had a whole episode about this.

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#14 Posted by HigherPower (12392 posts) - - Show Bio

Why dont you just ask the robot?

Is this a reference to Transcendence? Because if so 👌

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#15 Posted by dngn4774 (5581 posts) - - Show Bio

You'd call it by it's name, like Siri or Alexa. It would technically be it's own hybrid category, depending on the level of sentience.

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#16 Posted by IronGentleman (9 posts) - - Show Bio

If it's just acting like it is, then no.