HuMachines(2) – Augmented Humanity


“Is an entity Human or not?” – would this be a classification problem or a regression problem? Classification says either Yes or No where Regression says what percentage of the entity is Human.

In Part 1 the Narrator felt the person who helped him was a Human Being based on Looks, Abilities, Knowledge and Emotions. Let’s see how Looks alone may not be able to distinguish between a Robot and a Human.

If you were to identify a human, firstly you would depend on physical appearance of the person – Legs, Hands, Head etc. Current technology is either already providing alternates to human organs or close to provide them.

We can categorize Human organs into to two types

  1. Organs that are required for the body to function but are invisible to others
  2. Organs that perform actions and/or are visible to others

For example, heart is a vital organ of human body. However, heart’s role is just a supporting role. Heart purifies the blood and re-pumps it to the other parts of the body. However, if there is no need for blood or there is blood that does not need purification, probably heart would NOT be needed. Similar argument holds good for other inner parts such as Lungs, Intestines etc. All these supporting organs are not visible to outside and hence do not play any role in distinguishing between Humans and Machines.

Most of the inner organs’ role is to produce energy needed by the human body from the food the body consumes. If we can supply the needed energy through some source of energy, then we wouldn’t need any of these organs.

Regarding the outer organs, there are artificial limbs that are already in the market. There is research going on to produce artificial skin – that looks like human skin. It’s simply a matter of time to produce a human look alike Robots. There are already a lot of success that’s achieved. Refer to this News item http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/meet-nadine-the-worlds-most-human-like-robot/

Now we saw how a Robot can be made to look like a Human. Is it possible to Augment Humans with Artificial Organs? There are researches going in many Universities and Institutions on 3D Printing of human organs. Using bio-ink filaments – think of these are cartridges filled with Stem cells, we can print human organs. Although this is only a partly proven technology as of now, making fully functional human organs is only a matter of time. On the other hand there are attempts to design chips that perform human organ functions – A Heart on a chip. Check this link https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/10/3d-printed-heart-on-chip-with-integrated-sensors. Using similar techniques, it would be easy to manufacture human organs like instruments, that perform what these human organs are supposed to perform.

Let’s take a metallic Robotic human like Chassis. Add artificial human organs that are manufactured somewhere on a factory assembly line. You end up with something that looks like a human except that the internal organs are invisible to you and they may be a bunch of wires and circuits. On the other hand, take a human and augment that human’s natural abilities with artificial tools that act and look like human organs.

When a Robot can be designed to look like a Human and a Human can be augmented with Technology produced artificial organs, the result of both would be something that’s between Humans and Machines. Where do we draw the line? Does the baseline that we started off of – a robot chassis vs a human body – defines what the resultant entity should be called?

One thing is certain. The question of answering “whether an entity is a Human or not” has been an Yes or No question – in other words a Classification problem. Soon it will become a Regression problem which says how much percentage of the entity is Human.

If the Looks alone aren’t enough to make the distinctions, can the Abilities – what an entity can and cannot do – or the Emotions make the distinction?

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