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'Sharp' is a word that's more important to our future than you may realise

·2 mins

This is another of the articles that I was tasked with writing based on a theme as a middle schooler. The prompt, as you might have guessed, was ‘sharp’. I was getting at something interesting by trying to have a discussion about what it ultimately means to be a person, and to what extent machines can mimick that, but I’m not quite sure how convincingly I was able to write about that topic. I’ve copied that article almost word-for-word here for you to make that call.

The sharp, harsh feeling of pain, is something that the human mind has, over the years, learnt to recognise over the years as a warning sign of harm, of damage. Not just for humans, but for all creatures, this is a feeling that often brings about hard feelings of suffering and warning. Some argue that this is a defining factor of us being living beings, and the will to avoid it can be traced as the root of all the rights we treat as basic and fundamental.

And that is why, as AI and Machine Learning gradually picks up speed while transitioning from computer science experiments to part of everyone’s lives, we begin to wonder about our future amongst machines powered solely by them. As they become independent, should they, too, be granted rights against the sharp feelings that we find essential, that we find basic? Should they be elevated to the same status that we enjoy, be treated as equals, and thus open the window for the possibility of them one day overtaking us, as many reputed personalities from eccentric billionaire Elon Musk to sophisticated scientist Stephen Hawking have suggested? Or should we instead deny them basic rights and privileges, subjecting them to what would be their feeling of acute and sharp pain, like how we did to slaves for millennia?

Whatsoever the future holds for us, whatever happens to us in the possibility that machines reach a level in intelligence equal to ours, we need to remember what makes us human, and separates us from our machines. Circuits can’t emulate our intuitive morality, nor can they probably ever match our ability to feel emotions. In that sense, they might not ever know what it’s like to feel that what’s brought on by sharpness.