Humanoid Robots: Can They Be Concidered Conscious, Human, And Deserve Rights As Humans Do?

1499 words - 6 pages

Our brains are the most impressive achievement of evolution we know of. They are several million times more powerful than anything created by man. Our brains create our sense of self, our consciousness. This very personal part of each of us is created by neural networks in our skulls, a concept so hard to believe that a large percentage of the population instead believe our "self" is generated by a supernatural soul. It is now 2043, and regardless of belief, we know enough about biological brains to build digital ones. In fact, the local university has already discovered this and created "Rodney." Rodney is a humanoid with life like plastic skin, capable of conversing on many subjects, can play the piano, displays emotion like behavior, and can solve difficult math problems. The controversial question revolving around Rodney is whether he should be considered conscious. And if so, would this allow him to have rights as people do in society? In order to evaluate this situation, our definitions and terms of what consciousness and personhood should be made clear. I regard consciousness as the ability to be aware of the feelings you get when you experience something. Personhood is not based on origin or composition, but rather having thoughts, feelings, and morals. In this paper, I will prove that Rodney can be considered a conscious person, and should be give rights in our society.A humanoid robot can be considered conscious in the sense that it is capable of displaying emotions. The qualities of anger, sadness, love, happiness, jealously etc., are each distinct emotions that humans experience. These emotions are correlated with behavioral displays to what a person at the moment would be feeling inside. Humans are only aware of what each other are feeling by their outward show, or evidence of emotions. When you and a friend laugh together over a joke, you understand that your friend found the joke amusing. Your inference was due to the fact that they were smiling and therefore must find the joke amusing in some way. Now, how do humans connect certain actions with specific emotions? For instance, are we sure that smiling and laughing really mean that a person is enjoying himself or herself; or that crying means a person is feeling sadness? Of course we do. This is simply from what we know about ourselves; we usually cry when we're happy, and weep when we are sad. Consciousness is the awareness of feeling when you experience something, having a sense of self. If a human did not possess a sense of self-awareness in a situation, or experience, they could not assess how the situation impacted them and consequently could not display an outward show of their assessment. A person without self-awareness could not tell you or show you feeling, merely because they would not be aware they have a feeling. Rodney on the other hand, is aware he has feeling. He shows his feeling through emotion- like behavior, therefore, he can be considered conscious. In humans,...

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