Re: Machine Capabilities

John Montgomery (
Sun, 25 Jan 1998 02:42:57 PST

David Musick (

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

I think the key word here is setient. once something has become setient
it has gone beyond machine or animal. Machine is not a proper thing to
label a human. Because we as humans are more than machine or animal yet
we are very much both. When a computer becomes aware, it will become
more than a machine, and most likely be insulted if we were to call it a

John Montgomery

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