From Wall E to Tamagachis, it seems most everyone loves sentient robots, just as much as we fear them. On one hand, maybe they’ll take over and start harvesting us like in the Matrix, or then again, maybe they’ll become like a second species as in I, Robot, or maybe even they’ll combine with us to form a greater being like in The Ghost in the Shell. Or, maybe I should stop watching so many robot movies. However, the possibility of intelligent technology reaching the complexity of human life has been approached time and time again. Putting aside all practicality of such a thing, why is it so captivating an idea to us?
Perhaps its because we like the idea of starting over, and we are afraid of what another intelligent species would do to our original species. We feel guilty because of how much humanity has messed up, and we’re hopeful that if we give this hypothetical new species power, they can fix it.
But what this does is says something about ourselves. Our hope and fear is intermingled. When we want to go out and do great things, it feels so potent because we don’t know what will happen, so we think it might be better to not do it at all. Let me encourage you; what if you were building a robot that you knew would have the complexity and intelligence of the human psyche, as all that was left was a single piece? Would you put it in? On one hand, it could be capable of horrible things, it could harm people ruthlessly– or, it could do great things, and help humanity. The bottom line is that another person will probably come along and do it themselves. Another person will figure it out. Life marches on, with or without us. It’s risky, but we are in charge of putting that last piece in ourselves. We can take a chance and be responsible for it, however it turns out. Please. Take it. If you’d give robots a chance, give yourself a chance too.