David J. Gunkel's The Machine Questions: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

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Humans have been around for thousands of years. They have certain traits that are distinctive from other species. Although some of these qualities are the ability to think logically, create speech, and to have free will, what does it actually mean to be human? Throughout time, this age-old question has been up for debate through different viewpoints. Now that technology is evolving at a rapid pace, it is natural to compare these technological advancements with humans. As discussed in The Machine Question, David J. Gunkel challenges his readers to understand the fundamental questions that relate to our perspectives on smart machines and artificial intelligence (Gunkel #). He addresses machines as moral agents, and whether or not they deserve to have ethical consideration. On the contrary, in Frankenstein,…show more content…
With this in mind, machines should be given ethical consideration if they possess certain qualities such as self-awareness and the ability to make moral decisions.
So what does it actually mean to be human? Throughout the years, a variety of people have tried to answer this question through scientific research and spiritual practice. Since many different viewpoints were brought up by this issue, it is better to make an effort to understand humans on a deeper level. To enumerate, there are certain traits that sets humans apart from other species. What differentiates humans from animals is their ability to conduct speech, have abstract thoughts, and to be conscious. In The Machine Question, Gunkel uses the terms moral agency and moral patiency to help him define what a human is (Gunkel #). Moreover, a moral agency is an individual’s ability to distinguish right from wrong and then being held accountable for one’s moral actions (Gunkel #). Unlike moral agents, moral patients lack the ability to act on moral principles (Gunkel #). Although they can bring great pain to the people around them, they cannot be held accountable for their
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