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  1. #1
    Chaos
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    When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Hi. I've been thinking about this topic for a while, it isn't necessarily about what makes us human, but at what point aren't we technically 'human.' I was thinking of something you would have to lose in order to lose your human sense. Most people would go straight to the human brain in defining whether we are human or not, but i'd like to go through a scenario.

    Firstly, i'm pretty sure limbs do not contribute to whether we are human or not, so we take that out of the scenario, along with the rest of the body. Now we would just have a head left, if this to you is the point where we lose our human sense, that would simply mean for an odd reason that you would need a body attached to be officially a 'human'. So obviously at this point, the head (and brain) is the point that makes us human and when we surpass this point we are no longer human. Now for the hypothetical part.

    For this we will say you have a brother, but in fact he is a robot. This robot is indistinguishable from a human, the only way to check if it is a robot or human is to check its brain, which would be robotic. Now it comes to a point when you discover that your brother has a robot brain. I know mostly everyone would instantly say he is a robot because of the brain but that isn't the issue. The issue is that all your life you would have defined your brother as human, but in discovery of the brain, this changes. This simply shows that for this hypothetical scenario, you simply thought your brother was human because of his appearance. This is exactly the same in reverse, if you saw an easy distinguishable robot, you would say it's a robot based on appearance, when in fact, who knows if it might have a human brain?

    This comes to my conclusion that although the human brain may be the last point in where we are 'human' it would also need humanly appearances. The debate could go further, like if a human consciousness put into a robot still counts as a human, but i won't go that far.

    What do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I think it would depend on your definition of "human". If you are just talking about dna then a severed human foot is "human".

    However, if you are talking about how we think and feel then imo there is no reason a 100% robot/android couldn't technically be human. Not possible with our current technology of course. However, if you could create electronic components that simulate every aspect of the human body exactly then I'm not sure why you couldn't call it "human".

    Now, if you toss in the whole religious factor then my guess would be it would require a human brain.

  3. #3
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I think that there is a great deal of ambiguity in the terms that are being used here. For example, it seems that the word human is being used in several different contexts without actually distinguishing between them. It also seems as though the parts a person that are being included or excluded when deciding whether someone is human or not are somewhat arbitrary. Why, for example, is the brain given special treatment when considering what part are to be included in a human and what parts are irrelevant? There are quite clearly many people that may have a brain but cannot actually be considered people, such as those who are subjected to irreversible, massive traumatic brain injury and no longer have any higher brain function, or babies born without a functioning cerebral cortex. Furthermore, no matter how sophisticated the computerized hardware we have available or how complicated the computerized algorithm is that we devise, at some point any seemingly sentient machine that we might create ultimately comes down to a pre-programmed set of rules and contingencies someone made up. We might be able to create the illusion of a human, but nothing we can create will actually be human except a human.
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  4. #4
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    I think that there is a great deal of ambiguity in the terms that are being used here. For example, it seems that the word human is being used in several different contexts without actually distinguishing between them. It also seems as though the parts a person that are being included or excluded when deciding whether someone is human or not are somewhat arbitrary. Why, for example, is the brain given special treatment when considering what part are to be included in a human and what parts are irrelevant? There are quite clearly many people that may have a brain but cannot actually be considered people, such as those who are subjected to irreversible, massive traumatic brain injury and no longer have any higher brain function, or babies born without a functioning cerebral cortex. Furthermore, no matter how sophisticated the computerized hardware we have available or how complicated the computerized algorithm is that we devise, at some point any seemingly sentient machine that we might create ultimately comes down to a pre-programmed set of rules and contingencies someone made up. We might be able to create the illusion of a human, but nothing we can create will actually be human except a human.
    I think it was a given that when mentioning the brain it means a properly functioning one. That's what I meant anyway. Not sure why anyone would mention the brain specifically otherwise.

    I'm not sure on the computerized brain part of your statement. The brain, after all, is basically a biological computer of sorts. Or at least that is my understanding from what little I know. However, I do agree with you that if we used current day technology we would probably end up with just something that simulates life/being human and isn't actually alive.

    However, down the road I could see us maybe creating something you could consider to be human.

    Think of it this way. Let's say we discovered a way to create a nano size robotic neuron. Now, we take that single neuron and put it in your head in place of an existing neuron. The new robotic one acts exactly like the prior one did.

    Considering you have about 100 billion neurons total... do you think you would still be human with that one robotic neuron in place? Do you think you would even notice a difference?

    Okay, what if we replaced another one?

    At what point would you stop being human? 20%, 50%, 99%

    Or, could you replace them all and still be human?

    Of course, I doubt they would substitute like that... since one runs on chemicals and the other most likely wouldn't. But I hope you get the gist of the example... that being if you skipped the human brain beginning of the example and just went directly to 100% computerized/robotic you would end up at the same point. It just wouldn't have any memories yet... basically would be a newborn. And like newborns, it would have to assemble a bit of knowledge and experiences before it would become self aware. Btw, I think it takes a baby well over a year to become self aware... someone correct me on that if I'm wrong.

  5. #5
    Chaos
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    libre
    At what point would you stop being human? 20%, 50%, 99%

    Or, could you replace them all and still be human?
    I think that was a good example of where i was getting at. How much robotic elements could be added to the human brain so that it is considered 'robot', as soon as its over 50%? But where i was getting back to, do you think appearance matters to defining a human? Like i mentioned on the previous post, if you saw a robot, you would know its a robot based on its appearance, but what if it had a human brain in it and you never found out, would it still count as robot?

  6. #6
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    As I and I think Talthas was pointing out, you need to better define what you mean by "human".

    a) If you are just talking biologically then like I said, a severed foot or even just a blood sample would be considered human.
    b) If you are just talking about how we think, reason, etc, then a 100% computer/robot could technically be human... once we got the technology to create it.
    c) You could also have a definition that is a mixture of both a) and b). That being that there has to be a biological element that was originally "born" via a biological process. Thus, you couldn't just start with robotic/computer elements... these elements would have to be added/substituted in later.
    d) You could also take c) and add yet another restriction... that being the biological element has to be of Earth... or at least be directly related to someone of earth. This would eliminate possible alien components and maybe 100% laboratory generated biological elements.

  7. #7
    grayrnet 2013
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'


    First of all let us consider the definition of hu·man {as defined by Dictionary.com}
    [hyoo-muhn] adjective [1.] of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or having the nature of people: human frailty.
    [2.] consisting of people: the human race. [3.] of or pertaining to the social aspect of people: human affairs.
    [4.] sympathetic; humane: a warmly human understanding. noun [5.] a human being.

    Since we have the capacity for abstract thought and reasoning, I say that is a great point to start analyzing just exactly what makes us human. Think of the human body as a black box. Everything that comes out of the box serves to define the characteristic of what's inside the box without actually using the box to define the characteristics of the content. Thus what is used to describe the characteristics of being human, in this case, would not depend on the dimensions, capacity, potential, or circumstance of the body per Se. Is this not a reasonable boundary for this debate?

    A human being behaves differently than other species of whom shares the world and its resources. A human being uses resources. So do animals. No distinction evident in the use of worldly material. A human being can use tools and materials of the world to house and protect the self or others of its species. So can other animals and species, take the behavior of a beaver as a random example of this fact. In fact, I would venture to say that even members of other species also demonstrate the capacity to render even the rudiments of forethought for their actions and subsequently shows evidence of thinking. Check. Humans and animals can think.

    So what comes out of that box that sets apart a human from any other species on the planet. Evolutionary history teaches us that every species has the capacity to select the behaviors and resources it needs to survive: that doesn't make us uniquely human, especially when any random species, like a bird, has the same evolutionary constitution as we do.

    I believe the precise moment that we cease to be human and essential to the evolutionary process of perpetuating our species is when we are incapable of performing acts that will allow us to retrieve those characteristics that makes us human. Whoa! The box isn't just a box then. It contains all the qualities and aspects of being human that allows us to preserve ourselves. When we cease being capable of preserving ourselves, we cease being human.

  8. #8
    xwason
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I think that being 'human' (as defined not simply biologically, but mentally) includes being self-aware (i.e. conscious). This qualifier of consciousness is what separates us from current robots (they are not self-aware). To define human by this qualifier of being conscious, you must also include a definition of consciousness. In this case, I believe you are following the train of thought that you are either conscious or not (and thereby a man's head and brain is either human or not). But consciousness is not so black and white, it is likely that consciousness exists on a spectrum.

    An example of consciousness existing on a scale is sleep. When you are asleep (and not dreaming), you are not conscious. When you are fully awake you are conscious. However, how about right when you wake up? You are likely still conscious, but not as much so as you are when fully awake. Lucid dreams indicate that there may be levels of consciousness as there exist varying levels of lucidity. Since consciousness is not on or off, being human (by my definition) also cannot be simply yes or no, it is on a spectrum.

    Quote Originally Posted by libre
    At what point would you stop being human? 20%, 50%, 99%

    Or, could you replace them all and still be human?
    The answer to this question, I think, would be almost impossible to answer yes/no. Rather the person is x% human (the percentage is determined by their level of consciousness). It seems odd, but it is the only reasonable answer I can come up with. The brain can still be 1% human if it has 1 self-aware neuron and the organism is still 1% human. This definition is interesting because if animals are partially conscious (and they likely are so that consciousness is not species chauvinistic), animals are partially human...

    Quote Originally Posted by chaos
    But where i was getting back to, do you think appearance matters to defining a human?
    Appearance matters to the individual that is describing another creature. If a human is describing a monkey, he will say it is not a human based on appearance. If the monkey is actually a human dressed up as a monkey, the observer will still likely say it is not a human and he will be correct from his own perspective. An objective determiner of "who is human" would only be a God, and that is a completely different topic. So, yes, appearance does matter for subjective judgement, because it is how we gauge how 'human' something is.

  9. #9
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I think that when we consider other people non human we are talking about their state of mind and how it is viewed to others. By doing so, one person alone cannot consider wither he or she is non human. It would in fact take a large survey. But what makes someone non human. By being born with a human mother and father, naturally human. But the persons mental state is what to take into concern. Their actions and thoughts may not be normal to the average human and therefore considered non human.
    If we talk about artificial life we think of big tin cans and the robot out of the wizard of oz. But what makes robots human? I think that its the fact it is designed by humans and therefore ergonomic because we tend to make things for our self. So if we where to make a robot to human like this can freak us out. This is called the uncanny valley meaning that we can reconsize when something is not human and this makes us uneasy and freaked out.
    What can we consider inhuman though? Is it the fact that they are not in fact human or there actions are considered inhuman to us
    Take the Sandy hook shooting, The man Adam Lanza had been considered inhuman because his actions where terrible and no 'normal' human would do these things. However we can use this description to anything else. Say for instance the Incas an ancient civilization who would sacrifice children and many lamas to their gods, could we consider these acts inhuman though? The Incas believed that these actions where right though.
    what about the kings and queens? Their soldiers would rape women and children and murder thousands. Is this considered inhuman?
    The fact is that we cannot consider what is inhuman because some things that we do are inhuman to others.
    The dictionary says that inhuman is someone who lacks compassion,pity and may other 'human' qualities however what can we consider to be pity and compassion. Did the soldiers show pity when they dragged a spear through a child's heart, Do we show pity on the Xbox when we kill other people, can we successively evaluate human emotions? Being human yourself do your own emotions get in the way when you are doing anything?
    Take meat is murder for example, as our society has changed so has our beliefs and views in the past we had no problem eating meat but now we do.
    So what can we consider inhuman?

  10. #10
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I think as soon as it doesn't have a soul, it's not human.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Robots will never be conscious, either.

    I don't believe the premise that robots could be indistinguishable except by looking at the brain - and even if it was, it's not distinguishing that makes something what it is. It's what it is before you're aware it is what it is, and regardless of whether you know what it is.

    Your brain is just a machine, the same as a robot. In the future we will build computers with identical pathways as actual brains, but they will still be just computers.
    He who has an ear, let them hear.

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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Quote Originally Posted by Gherkin View Post
    Your brain is just a machine, the same as a robot. In the future we will build computers with identical pathways as actual brains, but they will still be just computers.
    And how would you determine the difference?
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    And how would you determine the difference?
    Perhaps by frequency or vibration.
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Perhaps by frequency or vibration.
    It seems reasonable to presume that, given technology which can accurately recreate human neural tissue and reproduce neural activity, the simulation of a specific frequency or set of frequencies would be a trivial matter.

    ---------- Post added at 09:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:41 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Perhaps by frequency or vibration.
    It seems reasonable to presume that, given technology which can accurately recreate human neural tissue and reproduce neural activity, the simulation of a specific frequency or set of frequencies would be a trivial matter.
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    It seems reasonable to presume that, given technology which can accurately recreate human neural tissue and reproduce neural activity, the simulation of a specific frequency or set of frequencies would be a trivial matter.
    Well, being a hypothetical debate, perhaps in a 200 years or so, we'll have come up with some type of device that can pick up frequencies of a "soul" if and once we figure out how to identify such a phenomena. My reasoning is ... if material objects have a frequency and vibration, why should we assume non-physical, spiritual phenomena would not have some type of frequency and/or vibration?
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    Re: When is the point when we are considered 'non-human'

    I would suggest that we may be considered non human when both our parents genes are animal, that may suffice as a legal definition

 

 

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