Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

Human Thinking in Robots

Description

One of my humanities moments happened while I was watching old reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There is a character in that show named Data, an android who is constantly seeking his own humanity. At one point the crew of the Enterprise finds the sister of a fellow crew member who had previously died in the line of duty. Many of the characters in the show describe how the sister reminded them of their lost friend, but Data puts it the best. He supposedly doesn't experience emotions, but his description of his own experience seems to me to be a perfect description of what friendship really is. He says that the circuits in his artificial brain have become accustomed to working and thinking in a specific way. Once his friend died, the circuits still worked in the same way, thinking as though she were alive and with him, and when he recalled that those pathways were no longer functional, he felt a sense of loss. I believe that sense of familiarity and a sense of fondness is what helps create our friendships with each other, and that the consistency of others in our life is what makes loss so profound.
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Why is this a Humanities Moment?

A lot of metaphysical philosophy deals with what it truly means to be human. When and how do we surpass animals and machines? Some forms of psychology seem to pin a lot of the cause of this difference to the way we think. Humans tend to take mental shortcuts or to think in ways that they have experience thinking in, whereas machines must take everything step by step. The particular heuristics that humans tend to use are something I have learned about it my computing and philosophy classes. To me the statements that Data made seem to highlight this idea perfectly. According to his statements, the root of what he considers to be his own friendship are his own thinking shortcuts. His manner of thinking is what makes him closer to human.

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Title

Human Thinking in Robots

Subject

A lot of metaphysical philosophy deals with what it truly means to be human. When and how do we surpass animals and machines? Some forms of psychology seem to pin a lot of the cause of this difference to the way we think. Humans tend to take mental shortcuts or to think in ways that they have experience thinking in, whereas machines must take everything step by step. The particular heuristics that humans tend to use are something I have learned about it my computing and philosophy classes. To me the statements that Data made seem to highlight this idea perfectly. According to his statements, the root of what he considers to be his own friendship are his own thinking shortcuts. His manner of thinking is what makes him closer to human.

Description

One of my humanities moments happened while I was watching old reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There is a character in that show named Data, an android who is constantly seeking his own humanity. At one point the crew of the Enterprise finds the sister of a fellow crew member who had previously died in the line of duty. Many of the characters in the show describe how the sister reminded them of their lost friend, but Data puts it the best. He supposedly doesn't experience emotions, but his description of his own experience seems to me to be a perfect description of what friendship really is. He says that the circuits in his artificial brain have become accustomed to working and thinking in a specific way. Once his friend died, the circuits still worked in the same way, thinking as though she were alive and with him, and when he recalled that those pathways were no longer functional, he felt a sense of loss. I believe that sense of familiarity and a sense of fondness is what helps create our friendships with each other, and that the consistency of others in our life is what makes loss so profound.

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human-thinking-robots

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