Those lying, cheating, self-preserving androids

I’m finally getting around to posting on last Saturday’s Masters of Science Fiction. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the beginning of the show, but even what I saw was wonderful, particularly as it relates to my current research on religion and artificial intelligence. A lawyer who is arguing the case that an android named Jerry is “human” does so by pointing out not its great intelligence (it was built with limited intelligence, to do things like eliminate mines from a minefield – being blown up in the process) but its similarities to us in being capable of lying, cheating, and selfishly sacrificing another android so as to save itself – as well as liking Christmas music. The lawyer admits that, as someone who believes in God, he believes there is a spark of the divine in Jerry, because just as we are made in God’s image and have that spark, those we make in our image have it too. The final voice-over by Stephen Hawking suggests that perhaps one day humanity will be defined not by the gifts we possess, but by the virtues we lack.

If you have already watched all the latest Hollywood releases and still have time to kill before LOST, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who start up again, in the last few days of the holiday I watched two movies that were non-Hollywood and which both impressed me. One is called Sweet Land and provides a wonderful look at an earlier time in American history, addressing issues of prejudice but without being at all preachy. The second is called The Italian, a Russian film about a young boy scheduled to be adopted who escapes from the orphanage to see if he can track down his birth mother.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03089281236217906531 Scott F

    I had a similar thought once before here. What if human-like intelligence is predicated on possessing enough paranoia and insecurity to make you obsessively aware of the motivations of others. Interactions then become more efficient and intelligence can evolve.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05830094293166211231 Robin

    How many of the Master’s of SciFi episodes have there been, do you know? I saw the first one (not impressed) but I enjoyed “Jerry is a Man” (and I was surprised it was a Heinlein story). I’ve got lots to say about it, but no time! You should remind me about this the next time we chat. I should probably blog about it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Consider yourself officially reminded to blog about this subject! I can’t wait to read what you have to say!


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