Sunday, March 18, 2007

He, She and IT

Note: Cannot find the book right now, so going by memory.
So far, I have read through chapter 13 and I find this quite interesting. At first, it was confusing due to the transition between the 22nd (21st?) century and the 16th century, although once I got use to it, I noticed similarities between the gholem (sp?) and the robot Alhem created. Both were trying to find their place in the world and both were created by man to protect a place which was in danger. The danger in both cases was to a place where the people were regarded as different or threats, so I am eager to find out what deeper connection the two events have in common.
I also find myself questioning even more about what is a cyborg and what is a human. In this book, the robot seems very much human, yet reminded me of an autistic person. I kept feeling as if I was reading about an autistic adult because like the robot, both have feelings, but realize and analyze those feelings in a very different way from NT's (neurotypicals or those who are normal, nonautistic). Such as, the robot would say I feel like this and it seems similar to how you humans describe this. It is the same way for many autistics; we have to compare our thoughts and interpretations, as well as what we think we feel to what others may experience to correctly define our feelings to an NT.
Also, the sensory overload that the robot was plagued by and how he in a sense shut down because of that is very much as autistic thing as well. It is very common for autistics to not be able to filter out things and experience something very similar to the overloaded robot felt. Eventually, autistics learn how to filter it somewhat, but it is a continual learning process that is very much confusing.
Thirdly, the robot is very unsure how to interact with society yet wishes to. Many autistics are exactly like this, we communicate and see things so differently,we are unsure of the unspoken rules that society has. Thus, we need to observe behaviors and be taught how to interact as well as communicate with society just as the robot needs to be taught.
Because of these similarities between the robot and typical aspies/auties, I must confess I am even more confused over what defines a human and what defines a robot. If I were to label the robot as nonhuman, I would have to label myself as a nonhuman because of the connection and similarities between me, an autistic individual, and the robot. That I define myself as human means I should define the robot as human. Yet, I find myself struggling to do so. The only reason I find to do so is because it was not create in the traditional sense, through birth of a mother. Yet, again, in this case, the robot was created by a man and a woman in a sense. Both a man and a woman inputed stuff into the robot to allow it to be as a typical human would and so it could learn how to be human. Again, this is very similar to how autistics are subjected to different programs and their brains are programmed. The only difference is that a robot seems to have a brain made of computer parts.
In the end, up until this point, I seem to feel as though the robot is actually human and is very similar to a human. I did not expect to ever feel that way, but after thoughts of this nature occurred to me, I cannot help but feel it is more human than machine. Perhaps, God even gave the robot a soul, despite the fact that he was not made in the traditional sense.
I am sorry if this seemed random, but it is hard to explain.


Adam said...

I can see your reasoning, in which case the line between machine and man is blurred almost entirely. This has been a reoccuring theme throughout our class and has never been formally concluded as far as I can remember. Where is the difference between man and machine?

I have another example of sensory overload for you that pretty much anyone can experience: culture shock. I remember my time in Japan, a culture that differs vastly from our own. At first you're filled with a sense of amazement and appreciation for something new, but that much new information can actually cause you to be physically sick. In a sense, we malfunction as a computer's web browser malfunctions and crashes when it reaches a page that is different from the norm (or filled with faulty code that the browser can't reconcile). The word 'malfunction' works great in this situation, but I tend to see that word more often when referring to technological devices such as computers. However, it works fine in defining situations where a person loses control for an instant.

Judging from your blog entry, I would say that there is no real difference between a human being and a cyborg/robot other than the words used. Some cyborgs/robots function at a level lower than what the typical human does, but then again we have many people in our world that were born special, in that they could be labeled as functioning at a "lower level." So where's the difference?

Disclaimer: I mean no offense by the "lower level" statement... I have a sister with Down's Syndrome, and despite what other people would call a "hinderance" I think it has made her into a wonderful person, and I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.

Amanda said...

No offense taken. I actually be lower functioning than I am today, so I know how it is.