Machine Capabilities

David A Musick (
Sun, 25 Jan 1998 00:52:36 -0500

It was remarked recently that many people are hostile to the idea that
humans are basically machines. From my point of view, the hostility is
not rational; the idea says more about machines than it does about us.
We are still who we've always been, even if we are machines. But if we
are machines, then that tells us a lot about the Capabilities of
machines. If we are machines, then machines can experience things
subjectively, can feel emotions, can think, can contemplate, can do
everything we can do, and more.

I think the hostility towards the idea that we are machines comes from
the low opinion people hold of machines, in general. People tend to form
the category "machine" around the machines they have experienced, not
around the abstract idea of "machine" that computer scientists and
engineers use. The machines people use are fairly stupid and far from
sentient. Calling us "machines" is insulting to those who only think of
machines as they are today.

I suppose the popular opinion of machines will improve as the machines we
create improve. If we create highly sentient and loveable machines,
people might not mind being called "machines" any more.

David Musick (

- Continual improvement is the highest good.