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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Robots could never be like us.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/30/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 976 times Debate No: 67640
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




It would be impossible to create a robot that shares human consciousness. What are the qualities of human consciousness you may ask. Well, lots of things but most strikingly I think, understanding. And also a sense of subjective experience, raw feeling and pure being. A sense of 'what it is like' to experience something. For instance, what it is like to be me, what is it like to hear bird song, what it it like to experience pain, and what it is like to experience all at the same time.

Let me be clear, I am not disputing that computers could not be extremely intelligent, as evident in the chess match between the Deep Blue chess computer beating chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. However this computer, or any other, has no understanding. If given a stupid chess move, Deep Blue will make those stupid moves. Computers do well at the tasks they do well in because its human understanding being applied again and again and again.

Furthermore, access match is only finite; it would be possible to enter in all the correct chess moves in each situation. Conversely a child has a grasp of natural numbers. Natural numbers are infinite so there is no possibility of giving a computer all the natural numbers.

Humans also possess feeling, a 'what it is like' aspect of consciousness which robots could not have. If we take Frank Jackson's example of a woman called Mary brought up in a room where everything was black and white. She could not see the colour red. However, she learns everything the best scientists and philosophers can explain about what it is like to have the experience red. However, when she escapes into the real world and sees red for the first time I believe she learns something new, specifically, what it is like to see red. Now if scientists could create a robot that sees red they would enter all the information they knew about what it is like- the robot will gain what Mary learnt in her room about seeing red. However, I argue that this would not be enough to allow it to know what it is like to see red.

If I can show that some things lie outside computation in one example means that computers cannot do everything.


Mah, Ok. I hope that its going to be a good debate. Good luck to PRO
Debate Round No. 1


My opening argument is written in round one. New to this debate thing. Please respond to this as the second round debate point.


Aye, I shall begin now
Yes, computers could simulate or resemble our feelings or consciousness. Its quite hard and complex, but our nervous system is complex as well, so its not a surprise. Everything is just physical, your mind is physical as well. We would have to simulate everything needed for thinking, chemicals (hormones, Ca2+, and other), simulate the working and way of thinking in the CNS. First, the most of the functions in the nervous system are working unconsciousness, so we"ve to talk about the thinking of the man. But the problem is that many thing we do. Happen because of instincts and hormones. Just like Estrogen and Testosterone make the sexual need, without it you wouldn"t "fell" the sexual part of love. And Dopamine, for instance. Without it you would lose you will of living or become extremely lazy. Also there are many but aba many molecules and substances in our body that help transferring the electrochemical data.

Did you think that love is magical and special?

Thinking is only a process were our Centre of our NS (usually a brain)and sometimes even a single neuron, gathers electrochemical data and processes it.
Computers work in a similar way. Memory (data) is being processed.

About experience and memory, you get it with interacting with the outside. HOWEVER this is very limited as you"ll need sensory organs, if you don"t you cant sense the outside. The bigger problem is of course, what the sensory organ is sensing. Ya eye can see only lambda= cca. 350nm-700nm (the colours of the rainbow). You cant see ultra-violet and radio-waves. The colour red you mentioned is only electromagnetic radiation on its unique wave-length of about 600nm. Electromagnetic radiation is only an energy, travelling by the tiny elementary particles called photons. Colours are only an illusion. What colour does a green leaf have? Every colour except green, because the leaf absorbs all the other colours. Green comes to our photoreceptor's, that convert an information and send it via the nervous system as electrochemical data to our brain, where we process the info and you aware that there is an object with the specific colour. The same goes for touching, hearing...
So as our nervous system, its only a big puzzle with fundamental parts. But you could "emulate" the way how we think and fell to work the same way in a computer. But we"ve to discover the hidden secrets of the nervous system jet better, before this technology will exist.

Good luck PRO.
Debate Round No. 2


In response to your point that consciousness is created by chemicals. You are simply explaining the physical aspect of consciousness, but how exactly does this translate to consciousness? Chemicals can influence the way we feel but I do not think they can explain how it feels to be in such a state, how to create a self-consciousness. Furthermore, chemicals only effect the way you already are, just like drugs effect personality, but there needs to be something there to effect. Furthermore, you are conscious of feeling happier for instance under the existence of drugs, I hold that chemicals like dopamine do not make up consciousness but that they 'colour' it, they can effect the way it seems to us. However, despite the changes in dopamine levels there is a constant self consciousness that lasts. I do not think that what you have postulated could explain that.

Yes I believe love is both magical and special and would continue to do so even if it could be replicated in robots. Whatever creates it love is certainly one of the great things about being alive. As to its origin, I just believe that science could not explain it and then replicate it in robots. Its cause is not magical or special it is just not discoverable through science. It is mysterious because we cannot find a cause for it.

You argue that computers work in a similar way to our brains because memory (data) is being processed. However, consider this argument against robots having the same level of understanding as humans. I could just manipulate symbols to make it look like I possessed understanding just as a computer that appears very clever does. However, it does not follow that I have understanding. For instance, I, being an English speaker, not knowing Chinese, could be confined to a room and given a rule book showing how to put some Chinese symbols into strings of sentences. Having become very good at doing so, it may appear to someone outside the room that I understand Chinese. In reality I am just very adept at manipulating symbols and don't understand what I am actually saying. The same problem, I argue would apply to our incapability of building robots capable of understanding.

I completely agree that a nervous system and senses could be created and used by robots. However, I do not think they would have understanding that they are using them, for what purpose and they won't have knowledge in the same way we do (first person, subjective) that they are using them. I do not dispute that colours are just an illusion but it is an important illusion created through evolution as certain colours inspire certain feelings in us, such as red excites us. It is a creation of the human mind which helps us survive. However, what I am arguing is not that a robot could not have an experience of red but that it would be incapable of knowing what it was like to have that experience and that it alone was experiencing that experience. Of course a robot could convert certain electromagnetic frequencies into certain colours and then say to itself 'red=danger=run'. There is something more about your experience of red though. a knowledge that you are the one experiencing it and this is what this electromagnetic frequency looks like to my self-conscious self.


Hello, for the final/last round.
Ah, where should I begin. Lets start at how "magical" love actually is. As a matter of facts its more like an addiction. But we"ve to talk about real love (so no fake relationships).Evolutionary love like we know doesn"t really exist often. There are rare species that do truly feel the love, and there are jet less species that keep the relationship monogamical. For instance Vasopressin is a hormone that is very important in our social relationship including the "sexual parts" as well, it may also be responsible for longer relations and monogamy. Also during love, special brain parts are full of Serotonin (C10H12N2O). That hormone (Serotonin) is very important, it causes extra happiness and "well being". Evolutionary species don"t need to feel love, its only sexual. Like snails for instance. When they"re ready to mate, they release special molecules that attract the other mate, at other animals the opposite gender (but gastropods are hermaphrodites). However love here is a sort of a mechanism given by evolution. Because parents care about their kids. Many things work also genetically and per instincts. That"s how our species survives, because its much safer for our juveniles to survive. Basically love works as an addiction the same way, because you get "rewarded" in your brain with special chemicals. But if love is magical, then could it exist without the nervous system, reproduction chemicals, dopamine? The answer is Nyet. Because it acts like addiction, it seems magical and special. Only that we all experience it. Also what do you expect from a drug addict, he"ll also say what a wonderful world there is with a drug. But when there is no drug, he"ll experience pain as his body (especially brain) will need that drug and his brain wont "reward" him. We Homo Sapiens experience extra pain with love as we logically think about it.
As emotions are only an illusion we feel, and as we can explain how everything works. It wouldn't be hard to emulate everything into a format a computer could understand.
Yes the bigger problem is self-awareness and Self-consciousness. But it might not be such a problem after all. There is a theory that mirror-neurons might be responsible for self-awareness. As there are no programmed signs in our nervous sys. The Mirror test is perfect for testing this.
The nervous system isn't enough, as less developed animals cant self-aware, its not even known if your baby is self-aware and when it gets. This is still unanswered in bioneurology. It"s a mystery. But the answer isn't God, Magic, Holy-Molly" We still have got to find it.
Next, emulating properties shouldn't be impossible. Combining technology and bioneurology with neuropsychology could make it possible to make a real man in a robot form. But it would be very complicated and expensive. But our nervous system is both as well, so it isn't a surprise.

Here to show you how biochemistry works in our brain:

I'm just a kid so I don't know everything about Neurology, but not nothing.
Good luck to both of us.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by mentalist 1 year ago
Robots do not have free will...While most of our 'programming is known, there are still some unknown variables. The program of a robot is controlled by its creator. Also, robots do not have desires.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro set a certain bar, and while they came close to debating what I thought was going to be the crux of their argument, didn't exactly hammer the point home on original vs contrived or imitated thought. Con, I feel was able to adequately fend off that attempt at an argument.