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Anatomy of I, Robot

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By agulaya
Words 756
Pages 4
a. Do you think it will be possible in the future to create a robot like Sonny? What are Sonny’s features that make him human-like?
b. Is there any way to know whether a robot, who behaves just like a human, is REALLY experiencing feelings and moral emotions?
c. Do you think a robot could be programmed to make moral decisions if it did not experience feelings or moral emotions?
d. If a robot has an interest in self-preservation, should it be given the right to life (or, as we might say the right to ‘continued existence’)?
e. What are Grau’s thoughts about whether or not it would be desirable to create a utilitarian robot?

A. Sonny has his own sense of self. While the other robots are essentially a “unit” and act under Viki, Sonny is independent. This is more obviously shown by the fact Sonny had “killed” Dr.Lanning, something that broke one of the 3 laws Robots had to uphold. Sonny was able to reason, break the laws given to him, and essential be his own rational and sentient being.
B. To a large extent no, there is not way to know. That is similar to trying to figure out where does an idea, or emotion come from for a human. While we can say certain parts of the brain are “used” depending on the situation the spark or origin of this behavior is really unknown. The best way to describe it I think is through a very famous Japanese Anime, the Ghost in the machine. If it is possible to somehow view this more abstract ghost then in theory, we should be able to observe the “human-nature” of a robot.
C. I think Robots can be programmed to make a moral decision. There are rules to utilitarianism as well as Kantianism and they are not based on “feelings”. To a certain extent most decision can be made utilizing basic utilitarianistic ideology. Utilizing utilitarian calculus the “greatest good” can be calculated. The question at that point is which greater good is being calculated and under what variables. While in some situations a utilitarian calculus can work the absence of individuality in utilitarianism is a cause for concern. Individuality is the ability to feel, have emotions or be “yourself”. Viki justified her actions as saving humans for the greater good but the emotional toll of feelings for any other human would stop them from those actions. It is a moral paradigm, which seems to revolve around the question of what is “self” and acknowledgement of that.
D. The right to life is such a touchy subject in robotics, especially in a primarily non-A.I. robot based society. The point at which robots are able to assert their need for “continued existence” is the moment when robots are no longer a tool, they become a being. I, Robot shows this dichotomy, with the processes of Viki and Sonny, comparative to the mindless goons of Viki and the outdated models. Robots were used as a tool more than a separate entity. For a being to be given the right to life, there must be a sense of self. An unrestricted unit, that is able to make mistakes, do well, have good days or have bad days. Essentially a unit which can mimic the brain is needed, and once you can mimic something especially as a robot, there is nothing saying you cannot be enveloped by that. It is again the idea of the “ghost in the machine”. If this is real, then yes rights should be granted. As for general acceptance among society though, I do not see that happening anytime soon.
E. Grau seems to look down upon the idea of a Utilitarian Robot. While there are uses for this as well as benefits there also comes a lot of negatives. In I, Robot as Grau states under utilitarianism the actions by Viki are justified, she is truly looking out for the greater good, albeit in the sense that some must die in order for society to move forwards. This is the part that troubles people, that a robot should not have the right to make that decision, as evident by Grau’s example of Will Smith’s life being saved at the beginning of the movie. Utilitariasm does not concentrate on the individual but rather as stated, “the greater good”. It is that lack of individuality in utilitarianism that makes using it as moral programming false.

623 words (questions not included)…...

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