Are We Machines?

From: Whitehead Sonia (
Date: Thu May 23 1996 - 13:30:36 BST

Are we machines?

How can we define what a machine is? It is difficult to determine what
is a machine and what isn't a machine. What categorisation mechanism
can we use to split items such as programmed comoputers, typewriters,
bows and arrows, plants, humans and robots into the two categories? Are
people with artificial vital organs machines because they are owing
their life to man-made mechanisms?

Machines are programmed using a set of mechanical rules. Humans are
programmed in a similar way with their traits depending on the
structure of our DNA. Through reverse engineering Dennett has found
that computers share the same experiences with humans. He looked into
the mind of computers by looking at a computer chess game. He
confronted the mind/body problem as how do we know what a computer is
thinking? However the computer was originally made by mankind. Could it
therefore be said that a machine is something which carries out
functions and has been made by man?

Also a machine could be defined as being something which cannot
reproduce or survive independantly in the environment and is not able
to look afer themselves successfully. A machine is merely a stand-in
able to carry out specific mechnical functions. It is not conscious and
probablly does not have feelings. Using this definition we are not

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