“Man is a robot with defects,” (Emile Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born). Humans' are not perfect, but we seem to strive for perfection, so who is to say that in the future robots will not out number the human race on Earth? In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the character Data is very much a robot and not human, being composed of inorganic materials but designed with a human appearance (an android), but does that make it just a robot? In the show it is proposed that for one to be a sentient being and a person they must possess three qualities, intelligence, self-awareness, and consciousness. In accordance to these three conditions it is obvious that the character Data is in fact a sentient being with the qualities of being a person.
To start off, to be classified as a sentient being, one must exhibit intelligence. To start off it is important to acknowledge what the definition of intelligence is; intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Data is fully composed of inorganic parts such as circuit boards, wiring, metal, sensors and so on, it is easier to say that Data is a walking and talking computer. On the subject of intelligence it is easier to refer to Data as a computer to determine whether or not it is intelligent. The debate on whether computers are intelligent or not is well supported on both sides of the argument.
The position that computers are intelligent is supported by three points: refusing to say that computers are intelligent is prejudice towards computers, being intelligent does not mean that one must be knowledgable in all fields; being intelligent in a single area also proves to display intelligence, and there is no single qualification for intelligence; intelligence is measure...
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...erefore Data has consciousness.
In a nut shell, the character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is in fact a sentient being with the status of personhood. He has satisfied all of the conditions of being sentient person. Data is intelligent being with the capacity to learn and apply knowledge, he has self-awareness being aware of his desires, and finally Data is a conscious being able to acknowledge his existence and his own thoughts. Though Data is only a fictional android and the problem of determining a non-human's status of personhood has little to no application in our present day, in the not so distant future this may become a very serious debate with very genuine consequences.
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