A Boy and His Robot


It’s been a while but here I am with a real post this time. Last night I saw an awesome movie, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. I suggest you go and see it now or get it on video whenever the hell it comes out. Otherwise, I’m sure that the more cultured of you in the audience will know what the hell this article is leading up to when I tell you that the movie, being part of that franchise, brought on the typical question that any intelligent lot would ask- What makes one a person?

Before we move onto my answer to the question I’ll clear the air up for some of you by giving a brief synopsis of the original film that started the franchise way back when. (Spoiler alert) the first movie in the franchise was called ‘The Planet of the Apes’ and the title pretty much describes the entire movie. It’s a planet ruled by apes but there’s more to it than that. On this planet the humans are the ones enslaved and in cages while the apes are the stronger and smarter overlords of the planet. One day a special human comes from back from a space mission thinking that he will be welcomed home by his fellow humans but is instead captured and enslaved with the rest.  Unlike the other enslaved humans he is smart and he teaches them so that they can rebel against their ape overlords.

The original film easily brings up the question of what it means to be a person constantly due to the fact that the apes are the ones ruling the humans and it’s not the other way around. The movie I saw last night kept true to the original idea of the series and left myself and my companions throwing out the question of what it means to really be a person. I now bring this question to you all here at A-Soul. What do you all think it means to be a person?

Since I expect you all to share your opinions with us here I’ll be the first to share my own. I believe that to be person one does not necessarily have to be human. To me ‘human’ is only a term that describes us as a species while being a ‘person’ is something totally different. Logically I should be able to come up with simple criteria for determining how one can be classified as a person but sadly it’s difficult. Alas, if the question wasn’t a difficult one then it wouldn’t be worth posting here for you all.  Amazingly enough, between the last two sentences I’ve managed to come up with a very simple and effective criteria for determining someone as a person.

  • Thought- Yes, you have to be able to think on your own. I know that there are cases of people who are comatose and have no apparent brain activity but still miraculously function but even so in my opinion you only qualify as human at that point.  In order for me to fully consider someone a full person they have to be able to think on their own, without interference by any external forces.
  • Communication- The second criterion for being considered a person by me is to be able to communicate some form of thought. Be it in the form of a cry or an explicit sentence, you have to be able to communicate some form of thought to me. Even a newborn baby is able to communicate it’s thoughts to me…Mostly by crying but it’s still a form of communication of some thought.
  • Self Growth/Improvement- The third criteria for being a person according to Poison. All ‘persons’ are capable of this because we are able to learn and as time goes by we grow. Even people with mental disabilities that for the most part leave them unable to function with the rest of mainstream society have proven that they are capable of these two things. Even if they show no sign of improvement we all show signs of growth through our aging and as we get older we begin to act according to our stored experiences.

According to these criteria many ‘undesirables’ can fall into my classification for being a person. Since we’re already in the science fiction ball park here I’m going to say robots and artificial intelligences.  I’ll be honest when I say I would not mind having tea with the Bicentennial man but I do feel myself falter when faced with the issue of if I could accept an AI as a person. It is for this reason why I want to introduce a fourth and final condition for being considered a person.

  • Biology- The final condition for being considered a person according to me. Now, I have nothing against you if you could fill the first three but the thing that makes a person a person for me is that we are able to feel pain, grow old, give birth, get sick and die. Through these things we come to understand each other and treat each other with some kind of respect.  We are also able to gain emotion, though they vary from person to person.  Basically put, biology is not just being something that is born through an act of nature but is also able to feel pain and well…Die.

Anyways people, tell me what you think and do be sure to keep me entertained!

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