Just A Machine


(permanent link) added: 2009-06-28 03:24:50 sponsor: adam_grif (last reply: 2009-07-07 17:31:23)

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a.k.a. What Measure Is A Non Organic Life

In many works of fiction dealing with synthetic life, artificial intelligence, robots and the like, there is an attitude that many characters share (and usually the writer), which is that computers, robots, AI etc are soulless, incapable of possessing free will, and not capable of "Feeling". This is to say that they treat them as though they are not capable of achieving Sentience or having subjective experience.

In real life, there are serious philosophical questions with respect to these things. As with many things, since the writers are the gods of the their own universes, whichever view they take on the matter will be how things are in their works of fiction.

"It's just a machine" is a common stock phrase associated with this trope.

  • In Termiator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, "it's just a machine" gets uttered fifty million times. When they started going down the What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? Christian symbolism route during season 2, there is an FBI agent who frequently reminds people of this, and that they "don't have souls" and as such "can't feel". John and Sarah Connor constantly say this and have this trope with relation to Cameron, their resident terminator.
  • Ghost In The Shell, the film. It deals with an advanced AI program let loose on the internet, who claims to be a sentient entity. People disagree, saying that the idea that a program could be sentient is preposterous.
  • Seen it a million times.
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