Can robots be considered alive?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Marrik, May 4, 2004.

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  1. crazymikey Open-minded Scientist Registered Senior Member

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    To live, you must die? No; to die, you must live. Dying is a result of the function of living, but dying is not the only result of the function, and nor does it have only one value. e.g.

    A robot, that cannot die, will die eventually, because it will malfunction one day.

    A biological being that has gained immortality, will die eventually, because it cannot survive every potential disaster in it's eternal life time.

    A being of pure energy, that cannot die, will live forever and never die. This does not mean there is no function of life.
     
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  3. rmnumber2 Registered Member

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    I believe that machines cant not be consider to be alive, because (1) we are the poeple that made and created these machines, therefore we can limit and program what they can learn and do. Also there is a way that you can shut down a system such as a robot or some type of intelligent machine. Also a machine is created from metal parts and does not grow and evolve on its own, it is totally dependent on us the creators (humans). Humans are created by biological speciemen and have grown and evovled.
     
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  5. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

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    I don't consider myself to be alive. I'm a deterministic state machine, nothing more.
     
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  7. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    I do consider myself alive, although I'm a deterministic state machine and nothing more. Perhaps the notion of life follows from the complexity of our "machines", rather than in some other aspect as origin, method of construction, mortality or fabric.
     
  8. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

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    So then you would consider organizations of even higher complexity to be "alive" as well (perhaps more alive, even)? Societies, ecosystems, planets, etc...?
     
  9. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    In a sense, yes. Although I do not know if e.g. the organization of a society is of higher complexity than the organization of a human brain. Nonetheless, if you have a system consisting of things we call alive, then perhaps the system itself can be called alive as well.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2004
  10. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    However, having said that... it brings about rather ridiculous examples: is a bus full of tourists alive?
     
  11. darktr00per Registered Senior Member

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    an>roid.v2---I agree to a point. I f you are created for a purpose you may or not be alive. But the major factor is essence. They say if something s created with an essence its a tool--example---if someone thought about a too to sharpen pencils it has an essence--it was thought about before being made. Although essence cannot be proven or disproven. However if an AI is programmed to take on human characteristics is it human? NO, since the porgramming is only allowed to go so far, humans tell it to make certian choices dependant upon the outcome---I dont think a true AI can ever be built. But, as I think about it, what is a human brain? nothing but a set of bio chemical electrical impulses.
     
  12. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

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    Well, the individual nodes in the society each have a brain, hence the complexity of the entire system is certainly greater. The complexity of a system involves both the complexity of the relationships between the various elements (call that organization/structure) as well as the internal complexity of those elements.
     
  13. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    Ok.

    Thinking longer about the definition of life, and being unable to find a satisfying one, I perhaps should not consider myself alive, nor not alive, but rather I should consider that I do not know.
     
  14. Blindman Valued Senior Member

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  15. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    If you wanted to push it further you could suggest a star (the sun in our solar system) generates enormous amounts of energy. We theorise the sun to be burning gases and Fission/Fusion reaction, However no matter how inert and in-intelligent it's form without it in our solar system (And other stars in the universe) their would be no life at all.

    You could even look to potentially belief systems in the way they suggest that their existance is at one with the rest of the universe, making everything that you see around you "alive" [For a computer this means no matter how idiotically stupid the OS is]

    It also draws on the point of why I previously mentioned "death", I class Death as an absolute it's a Zero to what a One is just like how a light switch has two positions "One" where it's on, and the other (Zero) when its off. Death is something that can't be re-switched back to a "One", however if your energy exists within the confines of the universe then you could say you've gone back to where you came form (Which would equal a rebirth in a way).

    The only reason I didn't cover this angle before is because a discussion on "Whether a robot can be termed alive" doesn't usually mean breaking into complete Philosophies and metaphysics on how we coexist with the rest of the universe.
     
  16. Faulty Ragged Rascal Registered Senior Member

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    If you consider a continuous spectrum from single elements and chemical compounds to more complex systems, it's very difficult to define the point where the entity can be described as 'alive'.

    I think that the concept of 'alive' is human-created, so we shouldn't even expect to be able to apply it neatly to creations of Man and Nature.

    I agree with Porfiry and Mouse in that we're just "deterministic state machines". We - and every other object that populates the universe - are all products of blind physical laws. If you were to assign the boundary of life to any point of complexity between an inert element and a person, it would be entirely arbitrary.
     
  17. crazymikey Open-minded Scientist Registered Senior Member

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    We are machines or we do not exist - but it's only relative right? I personally think, the situation Speilberg depicted in AI, of human prejudice against robots, is a likely event to happen. Considering we don't destroy ourselves, before we invent such AI.
     
  18. eddymrsci Beware of the dark side Registered Senior Member

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    hmmm...

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    that's a good question, well I think it depends how you define being alive. Robots can be considered alive they can be fully functional, and perform various tasks. However, some think that the first thing in being alive is having the ability to realize that it is alive. Therefore, robots must be self-conscious in order to know that. But we don't even know the real definition of consciousness yet, how can we say if something is conscious?
     
  19. Baal Zebul Somewhat Registered User Registered Senior Member

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    Cogito Ergo Sum
     
  20. YadaYada subspace being Registered Senior Member

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    On every bulletin board there are always two deterministic state machines. Never less, never more.

    Porfiry: I don't consider myself to be alive. I'm a deterministic state machine, nothing more.
    mouse: I do consider myself alive, although I'm a deterministic state machine and nothing more
     
  21. YadaYada subspace being Registered Senior Member

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    With increasing degrees of biological complexity the criteria for being "alive" gradually rises from easily machine reproducible to the yet inconceivable.

    Prions and viruses have some but not all the characteristics of being alive.

    Bacteria and individual cells are clearly alive, but are practically deterministic in that environment has almost total control over them. However, even at this level, bacteria and cells have by chance the abilty to mutate, and to kill their host environment.

    Some single celled 'animals' have the ability to locomote, and to visibly react to light or chemical stimuli.

    . . . [skipping]

    Those handsome sea slugs possess neurons that help them 'reflexively' react to being poked in the tail.

    Fish and insects appear to be 'aware' of predators and prey and have complex social behavior.

    Octopuses, some birds (especially parrots), and many mammals have 'intelligent' approaches to solving novel problems, are trainable, have consciousness and self-determination. Even differences in 'morals' between and within species are noticeable. The young are raised by the parents, and rudimentary 'culture' is passed on from parent to the young.

    Self-consciousness is possibly reserved to the great apes (including humans).

    We are unique in having language, written, permanent culture, complex tools and technology, etc.
    ____________________________

    Will robots be alive in the future?

    Absolutely. The only doubt in my mind is the level of achievement of future robots. I can even envision robot colonies on the moon, or elsewhere, that far surpass human capabilities and intelligence, hopefully with improved morality.

    Only the longevity of humanity is in question. Will we survive long enough to build these 'helpers', and will they outlive humanity into the distant future.

    :m:
     
  22. Neildo Gone Registered Senior Member

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    All humans are are organic computers. What makes a non-organic one not alive? I wouldn't say computers or robots at present time are alive but some time in the future once they're able to do more things and have better AI, they will be. And I don't mean talk and interact with us as if we're humans. Having a simple microchip that sends signals back and forth to one another is communication even if no public sounds are heard.

    A cloned being is technically alive. Machines as they are now can create things. If ever a robot is programmed to create another in a factory, how is that any different than by using DNA? One is just organic and the other is mechanical and they're each creating a new version of one's self, so does that not make one alive due to reproduction?

    Robots are basically the way of the future once they get a bit more perfected. Information will be able to be stored just like is done with our brains, they can be mass-produced much easier than an organic birth, they can repair themselves as well. So basically it's immortality. Heh, they just better hope nobody is equipped with an electromagnet pulse bomb as that would be akin to a nuclear bomb for us.

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    The only scary question in regards to a robot being alive or not and them being a mechanical computer compared to us being an organic computer.. if we're both considered alive and as we're able to actually know the life story, creation of, and everything else about robots, and they're alive as we are, just a different style, what does that say about our history of creation? If we know a robot has no soul because we created them, but they're just like us, what if we have no soul? If we're just an organic version of being alive, what if someone else, other than God, created us as we created robots? Our creator just prefered the organic version while we prefered the mechanical version. Take everything we know about robots, their history and the like, and apply it to us to help better understand where we came from. Pretty creepy.

    - N
     
  23. Neildo Gone Registered Senior Member

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    And our Creator couldn't do the same thing to us? So we're not alive then, I guess.


    And we can't be shut down? Here, lemme whack you up'side the head with a baseball bat a few times.

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    How were we created? What were we created from?

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    As for a computer not being able to evolve on it's own, I'm sure it will one day once AI is better. And when that's the case, they won't be dependant on us. Since we have all our information stored on computers and the like, a robot could download all that information to make it so they no longer need us. If they need a certain battery to help them live, they can find out where to get one, how to create it and such. Basically everything WE know, THEY would be able to find out since we'll be using computers and storing information on them for a long time. Not to mention have them all networked.

    Being biological and artificial is no different. When it all comes down to it, all we are is an organic computer in an organic body frame. With a robot having a computer for it's thought processes and metal body frame, it's no different. So what really makes one thing living? One can say a soul but we have NO idea if we have souls or not so that doesn't apply. Reproduce? Machines build everything already as it is. Once robots are here, I'm sure they'll be able to create themselves as well.

    And evolution isn't really important if you're an immortal robot. Evolution is there to adapt to changes to survive. If one needn't worry about that, there is no need for evolution. I'm sure if Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden of Eden their whole life without worry, they wouldn't need to adapt and evolve to danger either. Does that make them any less alive? Nope.

    - N
     
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