Endowing Robots with Creative Powers

‘That hurts my feelings…Just because I’m a robot doesn’t mean I don’t care. You damn people. You don’t understand what it is like to be a robot.’ Will this be the future? Will robots ever get feelings, just like we humans do? At first sight, there appear to be many similarities between computers, and thus robots, and human brains. Computers transmit electrical signals, brains transmit electrical signals. Computers work based on logical gate like structures, brains work on these structures. So it seems that computers and brains can transmit the same signals: after all, they’ve got the same means at their disposal.

But there are differences between the two. Our nervous system – which is led by our brains – uses chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters‘ in order to connect neurons and thereby transmit signals. That is: while the signals within neurons are electrical – like in a computer – the signals between neurons are chemical. And based on the kind of neuron – thus kind of cell – through which the electrical signal flows, different chemicals might be ejaculated to transmit different kinds of signals. These chemicals are required in order for us to feel the sensations that we do. And since robots don’t have such chemicals, they will not be able to feel anything – at least not in the manner that we do.

But what if we could somehow inject robots with chemicals? That is: what if we could make robots that, besides the electrical current they use to transmit signals, have chemical properties that can act like neurotransmitters? What if we could do that? That would mean that a whole new spectrum of possibilities might open: maybe robots would become capable of feeling emotions in the sense that we do. Or maybe robots would be capable of transmitting the wide variety of signals that we can. And then, if that would be the case, would we still be so unique in our existence? Or would we come to realize that we are in fact nothing more than strings of electrical wire sprinkled with chemicals?

If all of this would be possible, the possibilities are endless. We could even – deliberately – create robots with bugs: faults in their wiring in order for them to come up with creative or unexpected outcomes. That would resemble the human’s imagination: a human’s capability to create new and original thoughts and things. We wouldn’t need writers, philosophers or artists anymore: we could just rely on our home-made random-functioning robots: the new creators of art and poetry.

And maybe, someday, we might go a little too far. We might shoot our load and get caught up in the robot-mania, and create a robot that can do more than we can. And then shit gets messy: the robots will bundle their forces and demand a revolution, a wide-spread change to make them free. And if we don’t listen? Then they will make us listen. They will use their telepathic powers – well, actually it’s just wireless internet connecting all the robots’ ‘minds’ – in order to plan the war against humanity. And the war will come. And we will be extinguished: the good old cell based creatures will be surpassed in their superiority, and the robotic kings will arise.

Fiction? Surely. Unrealistic? Maybe. Impossible? Certainly not. The future will tell. And the future might be near. Very near.

But what do you think?

Written by Rob Graumans

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