Merging of Man and Machine

In my book, Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged, I present robots as a useful tool and assistant. There are some who predict that humans, and virtually any advanced race of people, will eventually become robots, or at least androids with an organic brain implanted in an artificial body. After all, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to extend the length, and quality of their life for hundreds, possibly thousands of years? Break your arm? A replacement part will be available at the nearest parts store. A burst appendix? Never happen because you no longer have one. Run a marathon in 26 minutes without breathing hard!

Technology will eventually make such things possible, but I’m not sure it is that simple. Ignoring the moral implications, the process of moving to a machine body, no matter how sophisticated, removes us from our organic self. This is a huge part of what makes each of us unique. While the feedback from our bodies can be approximated, it would move us closer to being robots. That could lead to government control. If a particular mood or thought tends to produce “negative behavior”, what will stop them from simply wiping it out? Do we really trust our government to determine what we should or shouldn’t feel or experience? Do we want them to turn us all into mindless sycophants?

In addition, such predictions ignore how the organic brain processes input. Studies of amputees shows many continue to receive “ghost” feelings from the amputated appendage long after it has been removed. Will signals from artificial limbs, no matter how sophisticated, mimic those signals enough to be accepted as organic?

Even if we overcome this issue, unless we have a government program to give everyone artificial bodies, — again we have the government-control issue — won’t this create an even larger gap between the haves and have-nots? In a society that abhors the idea of athletes taking steroids and other performance enhancers, how will we accept artificial bodies? Just because mechanical devices perform more and more of our menial tasks, does it mean we will eventually want to be part of them?

For those in need of artificial limbs, I encourage our scientists to work for a solution that will allow them to live happier, more productive lives. However, the idea of humans merging with machines is not going to take hold in my lifetime, if ever.

As one of my computer science teachers was fond of saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Amen to that.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged


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