I know around the world it’s Saturday, yet this topic has been brewing in my head for a while. And as I collide TV Thursdays with Futuristic Fridays together in this mega-post of sorts, I’ve come to discuss a topic that is quite hot right now- especially with the rise in the amount of sci-fi human-type shows and movies lately (Terminator, Orphan Black, Bicentennial Man, Extant etc.). What does it mean to be a human? Laughing, talking, thinking, expression of emotions, having the ability to discern right from wrong, being able to make sound decisions that will affect the lives of others as well as themselves? Or how about just being, being able to feel- the good and the bad, the joys and highs of emotion and the low valleys of despair, all the while knowing that God created us in His own image- and that as we feel both highs and lows, we know that God has also felt the very emotions we feel?
Being human, and understanding what it means to be a human, is possibly the most complex thing we can figure out. Especially when you see on the news all the time about parents and kids and everyone else in between acting anything less than human. When you see everything that has occurred in this world thus far, how do you think humans ought to behave? Should we show kindness to everyone we meet, even during the moments when someone gets on our nerves? Are we supposed to show love without condition, even if our parents may or may not have shown it to us when we were growing up? To be human is to express our emotions, but if our emotions bubble to the surface in unexpected ways (like in abuse circumstances), what are we to do? These are all valid questions that all contribute to what we as humans need to think about in weeks, months and even years to come.
Just recently our family started to watch this new TV show on AMC/Channel 4 called Humans. It’s a futuristic drama about the advent and invention of android robots- set in a fictional present where ‘synth’ androids are performing the menial tasks around the home- the jobs that we as humanity seem to not necessarily enjoy- the washing, cleaning, cooking, folding washing and so forth. The show focuses on a group of synths that have gained human consciousness and follows their journey and how they navigate themselves in a world that ought not to know their true nature, otherwise they’ll be in jeopardy of being treated like experiments for the world to see. As I was watching it the other day, I was reminded of this- Japan are now starting to make robots that look like humans- it may not be to the extent of Humans but it did get me wondering. If someday in the future androids were possible, and if hypothetically an android were to gain human consciousness (basically be a human without having the physical organ characteristics of one), does that redefine our definition of what a human is? If they did have emotions, feelings and the ability to choose a life for themselves, would they have to deal with the person of Christ themselves, or wouldn’t it really matter because they, at the end of it all, are still machines, regardless of what they may believe on the outside? Some things to ponder.
Even if everything what I saw in Humans were to come to a reality someday in the future- God will still love them as much as He loved and still loves us. Because to be human is to love and to love as Christ loved the world. To be human is to show empathy, compassion, championing hope and taking a stand against inequality. To be human is to challenge the status quo and to believe that the world we live in shouldn’t be as it is just because it has always been that way. And if an android is capable of that…then maybe, just maybe my view of what it means to be human needs to be broadened and challenged as God stretches my thinking as I come across scenarios and situations different than my own.
I do not know if an android will ever be capable of being a ‘human’ in the future, but if that is the case, they will be looking to humanity, their maker, for an example of what it is to show and be human. Till such a time arises if at all, we as a humanity and as the world ought to be compassionate and to love without condition. It may be hard, it may be difficult, and it may be something we may not necessarily want to even do. Yet it is the right thing to do. Because it is what Christ has done for us. That as we understand the gravity of how and why Christ died for us and showed us love unconditional, it is only then that we can fully express that love to people around us. Even if there does come a time where machines have the ability to feel and learn and be more human than we can possibly imagine, that doesn’t and shouldn’t change whether we love and live life to the fullest now. Who knows, if God can love sinners like us, surely He can love androids with a human conscience right?
Which futuristic sci-fi dramas have hit hard for you in terms of what it means to be human? Do you think that in the future androids with human consciousness is possible? If it is, how do you think you personally would adapt to the circumstances? Have any of the sci-fi TV shows/films shown you the parts of your humanity you can improve upon in the weeks and months ahead? Let us know in the comments. Til then, enjoy the sci-fi shows, and who knows- maybe they’ll be a reality sooner than we see or even think!