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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Enthiran - Robots have feelings?

A few weeks back I had gone out with my parents to watch Enthiran. The movie was, of course, really wonderful, fantastic and excellent in all aspects! At first the concept that a humanoid has feelings boggled me. I simply couldn't come to accept it but since it was just a movie, I didn't really care about it.

Although now, thinking about it makes me realize that it is possible. For this, I started thinking of how do feelings arise. How do feelings come about? A machine only has knowledge stored in its memory. It has a "brain" that consists of intellect, memory and the questioning capability (meaning it is able to learn from experience). What is this brain made of? It is nothing but wires, connections and electrical impulses flowing through the machine that makes it move and so on.

Now looking at the human brain, it also has memory, intellect, the questioning/learning capability AND one more thing: ego. This ego is the notion of "I"-ness. A robot may not have the awareness of "I", meaning itself. But we humans have this self-awareness. We look at things and objects around us and are able to say, "this watch is mine" or "this is my hair". But a robot does not do this. The robot does not have ego.

However, somehow this ego is born in this robot called Chitti when it starts to recognize something or someone as belonging to him. Chitti starts to identify certain things as belonging to him and therefore, desires start arising in him. 

When the notion of "I" is born, desires arise. It is very natural for all of us. And once desires arise, emotions take place too. When you acquire a desired object, you are happy. When someone else gets it instead of you, you are jealous. When someone or something is an obstacle between you and the desired object you are angry. When you lose the desired object, you are sad. So now we can see clearly, that when desires arise in us, so do the emotions. 

Since our brain is also nothing but neurons (in place of wires) with connections and electrical impulses (just like the robot's "brain"), it is also possible for humanoids to have emotions and the notion of "I".

One wonderful movie that portrays whatever has been discussed in this post is "I Robot". It is a wonderful movie and I personally like it more than Enthiran.


Ariana said...

I enjoyed reading this post! This idea of feelings and robots has intrigued me for a while too. There is a class at Macquarie called the Philosophy of the Body(brain) and Mind which is all about this kind of stuff. Whether minds exist in dualistic terms, or whether it all can be explained by the physical brain firings etc.

Anyway, this class was my absolute favorite of all time and the professor was REALLY good. I recommend it if you are interested in this sort of thing!

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