On the Death of Robots: Who Gets to be Human?


ai-artificial-intelligence-astronomy-73910I’ll admit it: like lots of people, I’ve shed a tear or two over the “death” of the Opportunity Rover, which spent far longer recording information on the surface of Mars than it was ever supposed to. After seeing dozens of cartoons and tributes, it’s hard not to anthropomorphize a machine that embodied so much of our humanness, our striving to know more about the universe we live in.

The story of Opportunity and the response to its “death” showcases the best of humanity: our curiosity, our ingenuity and ability to create technology that satisfies that hunger for knowledge, and our empathy, which is so vast that we can anthropomorphize a data-collecting robot, endow it with human characteristics, and mourn its loss as if it were one of us.

As a species, we take my breath away. We are amazing.

At the same time, the machines of human ingenuity churn…

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