AbstractsComputer Science

What Distinguishes Humans from Artificial Beings in Science Fiction World

by Di Wu

Institution: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Year: 2012
Keywords: humaniora; the humanities - comparative literature; the humanities - english; dehumanization; social categorization; empathy; alienation
Record ID: 1351312
Full text PDF: http://www.bth.se/fou/cuppsats.nsf/6753b78eb2944e0ac1256608004f0535/93331bc17365b1c6c1257a1500121c4a?OpenDocument


In my thesis, I explore how advanced robotic technologies affect human society and my particular concern centers on investigating the boundaries between actual humans and artificial beings. Taking Steven Spielberg’s film Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) as my primary sources, I illustrate how humans are experiencing dehumanization whereas artificial beings are acting much more like humans by analyzing the main characters and events that depicted in both sources. Further on, based on Nick Haslam’s theory of two main forms of dehumanization (animalistic dehumanization and mechanistic dehumanization), I discuss the interrelationships between social categorization, empathy, alienation and dehumanization by comparing actual humans and artificial beings as counter-parts. According to the descriptions of the strained relationship between these two parties, I argue that the rigid social hierarchies set foundation for dehumanization and the characteristics that define a human being, such as humanity is not a trait that only exits in humans. It can be both gained and lost.