Are we human because of unique traits and attributes not shared with either animal or machine? The definition of”human” is circular: we are human by virtue of these possessions which make us human (i.e., distinct from animal and machine). It’s a definition by negation: that which separates us from animal and machine is our”human-ness”.

We’re human because we’re not creature, nor equipment. But such thinking was rendered increasingly less tenable from the debut of evolutionary and neo-evolutionary theories that postulate a continuum in nature between Man and animals.

Our uniqueness is partly quantitative and partly qualitative. Many creatures are capable of manipulating symbols and utilizing resources. Few are as adept at it as we all are. All these are readily quantifiable differences – just two of many.

Qualitative differences are a good deal more challenging to substantiate. From the absence of privileged access into the creature mind, we can’t and do not know if animals feel remorse, as an example. Do animals love? Can they have a notion of sin? What about object permanence, meaning, reasoning, self-awareness, critical thinking? Individuality? Emotions? Empathy? Is artificial intelligence (AI) an oxymoron? A machine that passes the Turing Test might be called”individual”. However, is it really? And if it’s not – why is not it?

Literature is filled with tales of monsters – Frankenstein, the Golem – and androids or anthropoids. Their behavior is much more”humane” than the humans around them. This, possibly, is what actually sets people apart: their behavioural unpredictability. It’s given from the interaction between Mankind’s underlying immutable genetically-determined character – and – Man’s kaleidoscopically changing surroundings.

The Constructivists even assert that Human Nature is a mere cultural artefact. Sociobiologists, on the other hand, are determinists. They consider that human character – being the most inevitable and inexorable results of the bestial ancestry – may not possibly be the subject of ethical judgment.

A better Turing Test would search for baffling and inconsistent patterns of misbehaviour to recognize individuals. Pico della Mirandola wrote in”Oration on the Dignity of Man” that Man had been born with no shape and can mold and transform – really, make – himself will. Existence precedes essence, stated the Existentialists centuries afterwards.

The sole defining human characteristic may be our awareness of our mortality. The mechanically triggered,”fight or flight”, struggle for survival is common to all living things (and also to suitably programmed machines). Not so the effects of impending death. All these are distinctively human. The appreciation of this merry translates into aesthetics, the uniqueness of the transient life strains morality, as well as the lack of time gives rise to vision and creativity.

Within an unlimited lifetime, everything materializes at a time or another, so the idea of alternative is spurious. The understanding of our finiteness compels us to select among alternatives. This action of choice relies upon the presence of”free will”. Animals and machines are regarded as devoid of selection, slaves for their genetic or individual programming.

However, all these replies to this question:”What exactly does it mean to be human” – are missing.

The collection of features we now designate as individual is subject to deep change. Medicines, neuroscience, introspection, and expertise cause irreversible changes in those characteristics and traits. The accumulation of those changes may contribute, in principle, to the development of new properties, or to the abolition of old ones.

Plants and machines aren’t assumed to own free will or exercise it. What, then, about fusions of machines and people (bionics)? At which point does a person become a system? And why should we assume that free will ceases to exist in that – rather random – stage?

Introspection – the capability to assemble self-referential and recursive versions of the planet – is assumed to be uniquely human characteristic. What about introspective machines? Certainly, say the critics, these machines are PROGRAMMED to introspect, instead of people. To be eligible as introspection, it has to be WILLED, they last. However, if introspection is willed – WHO wills it? Self-willed introspection contributes to infinite regression and proper logical paradoxes.

Additionally, the idea – if not the proper notion – of”individual” rests on a lot of hidden assumptions and traditions.

Political correctness notwithstanding – why suppose that people (or unique races) are identically human? Aristotle believed they weren’t. Lots separates males from females – surgically (both genotype and phenotype) and environmentally (culturally). What is common to these two sub-species which makes them “individual”?

Could we conceive of a person without human anatomy (i.e., a Platonian Type, or spirit )? Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas think maybe not. A soul has no existence separate from your system. A machine-supported energy area with mental conditions much like ours now – could it be considered human? What about somebody in a state of self love – is that he or she (or it) entirely human?

Is a brand new born infant individual – or, at least, entirely human – and, in that case, in that sense? What about a prospective human race – whose characteristics are unrecognizable to us? Machine-based intellect – Could it be considered as individual? If so, when would it be considered human?

In these deliberations, we might be confusing”individual” with”individual”. The former is a private instance of the latter. Locke’s individual is a legal representative, a being responsible for the own actions. It’s featured by the joys of its mental conditions available to introspection.

Locke’s is a practical definition. It easily accommodates non-human persons (machines, energy matrices) when the operational conditions are happy. Therefore, an android that meets the prescribed conditions is much more human than a brain dead individual.

Descartes’ objection that you can’t specify terms of singularity and individuality over the years for disembodied spirits is appropriate only if we presume that such”spirits” have no energy. A bodiless smart energy matrix that keeps its form and identity over the years is achievable. Particular AI and genetic applications programs already take action.

Strawson is Cartesian and Kantian within his definition of a”man” as a”primitive”. Both the corporeal predicates and those pertaining to psychological conditions apply equally, concurrently, and inseparably to each of the people of that kind of entity. Human beings are just one such thing. Some, such as Wiggins, restrict the list of potential persons to creatures – but that is far from strictly mandatory and can be unduly restrictive.

The fact Is Most Likely at a synthesis:

Someone is any kind of basic and irreducible entity whose average bodily people (i.e., members) are capable of always experiencing a selection of conditions of consciousness and forever using a listing of psychological traits.

This definition permits for non-animal individuals and recognizes the personhood of a brain damaged individual (“capable of undergoing”). Additionally, it integrates Locke’s view of people as owning an ontological status very similar to”clubs” or”countries” – their identity contains many different interconnected psychological continuities.