The Bologna Blog

a blog about all of the "bologna" in our minds that lead to writing.

We Am the Line Drawers

with 2 comments

We’ve seen the movies. Robots and machines team up to take over the world. Terminator, iRobot, Wall-E… it’s a growing trend these days. That could have to do with the expanding capabilities of the technologies we use today.

At some point, we must responsibly consider the technological grounds we have paved before movies become the new age Nastradamus. In her 1995 Wired Magazine article “Who Am We”, Sherry Turkle presents an interesting take to allow you to ponder for yourself.

How real are computers? Can we consider them to be alive? They think for themselves in more complex algorithms than the average human being. They provide a virtual playground and social network greater than any work place or college campus.

Where do we draw the line between a living and non-living object?

While computers lack emotional concept that often drives the argument leaning toward non-living, one must also consider the emotional lacking of plants and micro-organisms that are considered living.

What’s that you say about computers not breathing life? Without electricity, computers are just as dead as any mammal without oxygen and any plant without carbon dioxide. Pulling the power cord out of the wall is essentially the same as wrapping a rope around your neck and cutting off the flow of oxygen to your brain.

If you think about it, what makes plants living organisms? Sure, they breathe; but they don’t move, they don’t feel, and they don’t think.

The intelligence of computer systems is simply astonishing. From video game A.I. to robots and smart homes, the interactive capabilities we experience is similar to that we have with living beings.

In her article, Turkle compares robots to Pinocchio, a wooden puppet that turns into a living, breathing boy. Robotics is not far from creating human-like robots that perform daily activities much like we do.

It’s just a matter of time before we see robots in the home much similar to those we saw in the movie iRobot and in the video below.

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Written by cor24leone

November 21, 2009 at 7:27 AM

2 Responses

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  1. This is an interesting post, though I want to challenge you to think a bit more about the comparisons you are making. I can see what you mean when comparing the computer cord in the wall to a plant that is rooted in the ground and the blood flowing through the human body. However, I think you are giving a little too much agency to the computer—a machine that must be turned in order for the bits to flow through it. Plants automatically photosynthesize and circulate water; humans automatically breathe and circulate blood. The problem with calling computers “alive” is that it removes the agent of computer change–the human being–from the equation. Without a human to turn on and tell it what to do, a computer is like any other technology: inert, lifeless, dead.

    BW

    December 2, 2009 at 12:10 AM

  2. I agree, and I may have overextended my comparison, but I myself was challenging readers to consider the other side of the argument. While I understand the obvious nature in the lifelessness of a computer without power and without a set of commands, there is still the infinite room for expansion in technological capabilities. While computers are not “alive”, one could argue that life-“like” characteristics have become a byproduct of the evolution.

    cor24leone

    December 3, 2009 at 9:18 AM


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