A “humanity” test? There’s something to think about. What makes something “human?” Is it empathy or something else?
In 2022, most of us have thought about androids, machines that look and act as humans, maybe not in our daily lives, but frequently. Some of our favorite characters are androids. Data, in Star Trek Next Generation, for instance. We’ve explored his humanity quite a bit. I know there are many others, but this one is the one I like best.
Could you kill Data? Could you say he’s not human, or even really alive, and end him? Turn him off? I couldn’t. I have a hard time killing off anything on purpose, though, even plants I don’t want in my yard. I’m an odd ball. I know that. Weeds are different though. They are in my way and causing problems, so out they go. No problem.
This book was written in 1968, and the idea of androids was fairly new. Machines, created to serve mankind (not for dinner, DAD!) in much the same way as our dishwasher or vehicle, become sentient. They want their own lives, apart from serving humans, and escape back to earth, where humans can’t survive due to radiation.
The whole story (so far, I’m only halfway through) is about that. My questions: Why are we hunting them? What did they do? Humans can’t live on earth long anyway, why not let them have it? How can you kill something that looks at you and says, “Please don’t!”
Oh, yes. If we’re protecting ourselves, we can justify it. We can’t have a “species” living out its life nearby. What if they decide to invade us, take our things, rule over us? Does this sound familiar?
“What if machines became sentient?” is a great question. But what if another animal on our planet could communicate in a way that led us to believe it was also sentient? And then, my rolls around to, “What if people in other countries, other races, on other continents…?”
Yeah, get it? Humanity rules over other species, and our own. It is our nature to make our way, stake a claim, and defend it. All animals do. We just do it in more creative and efficient ways. The only way to stop us from destroying each other is for humanity to recognize others as our own.
I can’t say much more about the story (don’t want to ruin it) but now I’m thinking…
What if we created a test to show us whether or not another being is “one of us?”
Go back to my first post about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for more.