true robots within Karel Capek’s use of the word in the play R.U.R. to describe beings that are manufactured in order to work. Type II beings will exist at a higher level, designed to grow into creatures with full autonomous consciousness, using special brain hardware and human nurturance.We might ask,“Isn’t this just a hard way to raise a human being?”The answer is no, andYod the android illustrates why. Although it became more human, elements of its initial design re- mained. The result was a mixture of programming and free will, a blend of machine and human.This hybrid points to an exciting possi- bility, appreciated by creative researchers and writers alike: that silicon nature can combine with human nurture to create a unique but com- panionate species—intelligent, self-aware, humanlike in some respects and able to communicate with us, but with new thoughts and atti- tudes to share with humanity.
Imagine now a world in which we have the two types of artificial beings: those that only act as if they are conscious, and those that are conscious. We accept the fact of consciousness for the latter group, because if they have been brought up in human society, when one of them says “I’m conscious,” we believe it. This is different from the Type I’s, which, even if humanoid, are machines, no different from an automobile or screwdriver, and with just as little need for us to have moral concerns toward them.
Type II’s, however, represent something else: a conscious spark within a synthetic body, to which we might respond by treating them like people. If this seems doubtful, consider a scenario where artificial parts can be routinely integrated into a person—let’s say, to replace a gangrenous leg with a plastic one that operates under direct neural control.After the operation, the resulting bionic human is, of course, still a person in every sense.That would be true even for people who have had major physical changes such as the replacement of three or four limbs, or the kidneys, or heart, or all those. But what if a person’s injured brain is repaired with a silicon prosthetic, or his entire brain is transferred into an artificial body? Is that being still a person, although perhaps a different one from who he was before?