Sentience and Being Human in Science Fiction Film Review by Metro

Sentience and Being Human in Science Fiction
Looks at the issue of sentience in science fiction by analyzing the film "Bicentennial Man", the "Red Dwarf" episode 'Kryten' and the film "Westworld".
# 151834 | 2,545 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2012 | NZ
Published on Oct 11, 2012 in English (Analysis) , Film (Analysis, Criticism, Etc.)

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This paper explains that sentience in science fiction relates to the quality a robot must have in order to bridge the gap between itself and the humans around it. After examining the film "Bicentennial Man", the "Red Dwarf" episode 'Kryten' and the film "Westworld", the author relates that, for a robot to be seen as sentient, people who come into contact with it must not sacrifice their 'self' in order to do so. The paper concludes that the more 'truly human' a robot is, the more sentient they are perceived; yet sentience does not depend on physical attributes, such as the body, but the mind within and the way they behave. Several quotations are included.

From the Paper:

"Though this is a comical exploration of feminine and masculine traits coming to ahead, it still serves our purpose of understanding what makes a sentient being and how notions of what it means to be human have developed over the years. From this episode we can see how feminine attributes forced Kryten to comply with his mechanical nature, however when taught masculine qualities he was able to become his own 'being'. The episode clearly shows us that gender qualities are irrelevant to sentience, as like Bicentennial Man, physicality is not important. Kryten shows the rejection of notions that certain gendered qualities make robots more or less human, and instead shows that such is irrelevant, and instead, like Martin, his sentience relates to how he behaves. In a later episode Kryten is transformed into a human, but chooses to return to his mechanical form. This rejection does not make him any less sentient or human, because again, physicality is irrelevant. When Kryten is taught how to make fun of people and how to express anger and resentment, there is no reasonable way that we can suggest he is not sentient or human, as he is interacting with organic humans as an equal, and they too treat him as one - Kryten's mind makes him human, not his body."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ariew, Roger Descartes & the Last Scholastics (Cornell University Press, New York 1999)
  • Bye, Ed, et al. Kryten (Red Dwarf: Series 2). BBC Worldwide: BBC Video, 1988
  • Columbus, Chris, et al. Bicentennial Man. Walt Disney Studios: Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1999
  • Crichton, Michael, et al. Westworld. Time Warner Inc: Warner Home Video, 1973
  • Jankovich, Mark. From Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Re-Examining the 1950s Invasion Narratives. (2005). ENGL249, American Science Fictions and Intelligent Technologies: Learn website. University of Canterbury, 2012. Web. 10 June 2012.

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