In the article “We Are Not Special” Rodney A. Brooks argues how people are merely machines that act according to a set of specifiable rules. Many people bristle at the word “machine,” because of there desire to be “special” and to differentiate themselves from mere robots. A robot is a mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance. But in true reality every part of the human body is a machine if it’s physically or mentally.
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We Are Not Special
Brooks states, “The body consists of components that interact according to well defined (though not all known to us human) rules that ultimately derive from physics and chemistry” (241). Meaning that the body has parts with specific tasks that allow the body to function like a well oiled machine. Within a human these parts are made up of base units which in turn act within the system. Such as the liver, an organ in the digestive system, that takes a product, breaks it down and recycles it. This is a function that has been programmed into the human body and is not thought about; it’s just done, along with many other systems in the human body. But just as machines aren’t perfect humans aren’t either, sometimes organs don’t work correctly. Like the pancreas, an organ in the endocrine system, that sometimes doesn’t work hard enough to produce enough insulin or sometimes works to hard and produces too much insulin in tune causing problems. If not enough insulin is produced a person becomes diagnosed with type 1 diabetes meaning there body isn’t breaking down sugar that is needed for the body to function, causing the person to manual give themselves insulin to keep them stabilized and functioning. And if too much insulin is produced this can lead to type 2 diabetes, such as being over weight because of the over production of insulin which affects the fat cells making a person gain weight. The cure for type 2 diabetes is simply watching there weight by eating correctly and exercising. Human are machines, an intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body.
Along with humans being machines physically we are also mentally machines because our mind is programmed from birth. From simply being programmed to cry at birth, there are certain things that are “programmed” into humans to help us communicate and function with our surroundings. For example eating, someone didn’t come along one day and tell us that we need to eat to survive, we simply became hungry and cried until we were feed. But as humans grow they learn new functions and characteristics that are saved into our “programming.” Just like Furbies (a cuddly owl like creature) it was programmed to function and act certain ways to get things such as food. Furbies at first only speak “Furbish” but learn to speak English as they get older. They hold many similar characteristics with humans such as they play games, communicate with other Furbies, sing, get hungry, learn new information and say “I love you” (“Loving Technology,” Turkle 255). This make humans look like a gaming system with a memory card. Humans start life with a limited amount of knowledge, which allows us to communicate with our surroundings. But as we go through the game of life and accomplish different tasks and advance to new levels our knowledge grows. This new knowledge saved in our brain, “memory card,” is used to help us communicate with the world around us.
With humans always wanting to believe that there special and not see themselves as machines that have systems that keep us functioning and a “memory card” that retains information there un-accepting of anything that’s isn’t human. Brooks clearly states “ Indeed, the many arguments that abound about why a machine can never have real emotions, or really be intelligent, all boils down to a denial of one form or another, that we are machines, or at least machines in the conventional sense” (243). Brooks is simply trying to point out that humans are machines and have emotions does not disqualify a human from being a machine. While he understands that there are arguments that we are more then conventional computers, he still stands by humans being machines. While I agree with Brooks and how we are machines, I will continue to see humans as machines that can be fixed and programmed. While humans at birth are born with a limited knowledge at an older age they begin to louse that knowledge, from all timers. Machines will begin to get older and information will become harder to recognize.