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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What makes a human human

In the story that I have been posting for the past couple of weeks we have come into a new realm of psychology, that is what makes a human human and an android an android. Tim is an android in fact he is an older model, yet he acts like a human. One of the things that surprised Tabatha about Tim was that he smiled and that it seems he has emotions. Then we introduce an even older android who greets Tabatha and speaks. This is completely surprising to her because she did not know that even older models of androids could speak. In the story Tabatha's perspective on what an android is and how it behaves is being challenged.

So the question is what makes a human human and how do we differentiate between human and android? If we look at Star Trek we have Data who does not show emotion even though he is trying to understand it and learn it (I don't watch much star trek so correct me if I'm wrong). We then have another example of androids/robots in the movie AI. (BTW this is one of my all time favorite movies.) In this movie robots are just learning to have emotion and end up caring about and preserving humans. They become more human than humans.

When we look at what makes a human human we also get into the spiritual/religious realm. From a spiritual perspective we see humans as both body and spirit. Is it possible for an android to have a spirit? I often look at cloning and wonder about clones and their spirits. Would it work the same for an android?

When we are creating our SF stories about androids we need to decide how human they will be and/or become within the story. Is it possible for androids to grow physically? Is it possible for androids to have children? (Robots the movie). Is it possible for them to have emotions or even a spirit?


  1. Robots (the movie) addressed a bit the growing up of robots in a humorous interesting thought...maybe not physically but def could learn beyond where they are at dont you think...and then upgrade a body

  2. All interesting things to think about. I was a big Data fan and his quest to become human. You have to wonder, too, about not only androids, but cyborgs. Those that were once fully human but augmented in a way. At what point are they no longer human?

  3. From ST TNG: "The Offspring"
    Discussing Data's "child"

    Data: "I can give her attention, Doctor. But I am incapable of giving her love."

    Dr. Crusher: "Now why do I find that so hard to believe?"

  4. Great questions to think about.

    The border between android and human has a big role in Isaac Asimov's stories, too; most of the books by him I've read there has been some form of AI.

  5. I think this is the best part of being an author, I get to choose how human my androids are. So long as you can explain it then you can do what you want. Androids in science fiction are like dragons in fantasy. People will continue to read about them so long as you make them original.

  6. Interesting question. To me the 'emotional' android is the most interesting kind. We love it when people/things don't do what they are expected to do. It certainly makes for interesting stories :-)

    That great long link above goes to a 7 minute video. It's showing off new software skills but I think you'd like the video for its own sake if you have time to watch it. (It's about halfway down the page).


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