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Alexandra Morales
Professor Collins
English 115
December 1, 2015
Is it real or not?
What would happen if there were different species that werent human living in our
society? Not many have given thought to what consequences could come along with having
cyborgs in our world. The only way that cyborgs could be part of our society is only if and when
technology advances so much, to a point where someone could program a robot into acting and
feeling the same way that a human does. The major issues that come along with
cyborgs/androids is if they should be given the same rights that humans have just because they
are able to feel empathy like humans do and if differentiating between cyborgs and humans will
cause issues among society. What qualities will cyborgs need in order to obtain the same rights
that humans have? In the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep written by Phillip K.
Dick, androids live in what is left over of a vacant society, but are being hunted down because
they are not classified as being real: even though the androids themselves do have some
qualities that humans have. They feel what they think is empathy towards other androids and
try to live their lives as well as they believe they can. Having cyborgs be part of our society is not
the correct thing to have because we would not know if the cyborgs would be dangerous, or what
the outcomes would be if we did not know if the person that we know is human or not.
Technology could become so advanced that a robot might look so much alike a human that one
wouldnt know if they were real or not. Some might argue that having cyborgs in our society
wouldnt cause harm to anyone and that they should not be seen as a problem to others, in the


long run it might be a problem having cyborgs but most people cant see whats the bigger
underlining problem.
In a world where technology is in demand of constant improvement, there is the fear of
what could happen when technology becomes too advanced. Although it may seem that having
more advancements is better, in this case it is not, if technology where to get to the point where
there could be cyborgs/androids living in our society, it would be the start to one of the issues
that was mentioned and that is whether or not, if and when society has cyborgs, will they cause
problems that affect how we act around people or would we not even know that they are
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the androids sometimes were hard to distinguish
if they were or were not cyborgs. Some such as Luba Luft , the opera singer was playing a
Mozart piece, and Rick feels empathy for her once she tells him a little about herself. Just by her
appearance and what she does, it might be challenging to assume that she is an android but the
reader knows that she is because they are told that, but if we were not told that she was an
android that was being hunted down would we have known? Probably not until later on in the
story. She could have just been a human but because in this world technology is so advanced,
androids are able to very well disguise themselves to look as normal as possible. This example
demonstrates not only how well androids can be programmed to look and act as humans do, but
that distinguishing between what is and what is not real becomes a challenge.
Could you imagine how that would be in todays society? If it were someone that you
knew very well and then one day you find out that they arent really who you thought they were,
that they were a cyborg the entire time, how would one react to that. Finding out that someone
that you know is not human and theyre actually a robot thats programmed to act and feel a


certain way to a situation that would be challenging to comprehend. You would probably over
analyze your life and see if what is around you is in fact real. Such news like that could be too
much for a person and might even lead them to things that they might never before thought of
doing. The article The Cyborg Revolution written by Kevin Warwick, states that The brain is
grown in a glass specimen chamber lined with a flat 88 multi-electrode array, which can be
used for real-time recordings An experimental control platform, essentially a robot body, can
move around within a defined area purely under the control of such a network/brain, and the
effects of the brain, controlling the body, can be observed, these robot brains can be designed
and programed in any way that a person could want the person to act, making it much more
difficult to distinguish what is and what is not real. The one thing that has not made an android
perfect is the lack of empathy that they express.
What keeps cyborgs from being automatically given all the rights that
humans have is the lack of empathy that they have. It is believed that
because cyborgs dont have any empathy they dont have common sense or
arent aware of the actions that they do. I believe that because cyborgs lack
empathy towards other humans, their actions that can cause harm to other
individuals around them which can later on be a massive problem. In the
book, what distinguishes androids from humans is that they are not able to
empathize at least with other living things. The androids do have empathy
for other androids like in chapter 19 when Irmgard Baty is shot and killed by
Rick, Roy yells out for her demonstrating some sort of empathy for her. This
is the only form that we have seen androids in the book showing empathy
towards something, how these androids are programmed are not like how


humans act. The way that rights come into play is seen when Pris and the
other androids get the spider that John finds, and think that the spider can
walk on only four legs so they start to cut off the spiders legs. What they are
doing to the spider is cruelty and because of this we shouldnt classify them
as people because they are not aware of the consequences of their
actions. A sane person would know that although the spider cant talk it still
does feel, because its a living thing! In the article Testing Empathy with
Robots: A Model in Four Dimensions and Sixteen Items written by
Serge Tisseron, he states that one of the four empathys is, empathy of
action It consists of putting oneself in the place of another persons
actions, in order to understand them or to reproduce them, in the context of
representations of intentions of shared actions, because of this androids
should not be given the same rights that humans have, because of their
actions they might not think that they are at fault but in reality they could be
harming someone else, just like the androids did by hurting and torturing the
What the androids lack from human characteristics is empathy, and
that is one of the most significant qualities that a human has: in order to be a
person you should have an emotional reaction to every situation. When
Rick gives Rachel the test to see if she is human, her reactions to certain
scenarios are processed too late than a human would so she is classified as
an android. Cyborg rights are tested because many can argue that androids


did not have a choice to exist and they should deserve all rights just like
everyone else because they did not choose to be who they have become.
Some people may argue that empathy does not necessarily require
the person to feel an emotional state as a result. empathy may occur by
means that require no cognitive effort, such as bodily mimicry of another
person's behavior including, but not limited to, facial expressions and body
postures just like the article The influence of Empathy in HumanRobot
Relations mentions, but I think that almost always there will be facial and
emotional response, to something that is said. Yes for some occasions or
even some individuals, they do not express themselves or have an initial
reaction to a situation that is presented, but that does not mean that it is
always going to be like that. The article "Cyborg BodiesSelf-Reflections on
Sensory Augmentations" brings up the topic that if there would be cyborgs,
that all that would matter is how well they engage with humans, and how
well they adapt to a situation and not so much about if feelings are needed.
Again this goes back to cyborgs and empathy and how some claim that it is
not needed to interact with others. Others might also argue that androids
should be given all the rights that humans have because they did not choose
to be created and because they had no choice then they should have the
same rights if thats how humans also are. Humans did not have a choice to
be born yet they still have rights so why cant androids be the same? What is
not considered here is that we dont know how these androids will act, if they
will be dangerous or not, because if we think about it someone else did


program the robots brain, what if they mental faculties werent in control?
From that cyborgs would later on then decide what believe is best for them.
Having cyborgs in our society could be start of multiple issues that
could appear if technology would be so advanced that a person could
actually program a robot brain and create another person. Ethics and rights
come into play if cyborgs and androids should be given the same rights as
everyone else. The differentiation between what is and what isnt real can
get tricky if cyborgs were to live in our world, would the people that we know
actually be real? Having such an advancement might be alright if it is put to
good use, but if it isnt and it gets out of control then it can lead to have
major issue.

Works Cited
Greiner, Stefan. "Cyborg BodiesSelf-Reflections on Sensory Augmentations." NanoEthics, 8.3
(2014): 299-302.

Leite, I, A Pereira, S Mascarenhas, C Martinho, R Prada, and A Paiva. "The Influence of

Empathy in Human-robot Relations." International Journal of Human-computer Studies, 71.3


(2013): 250-260.

Tisseron, Serge, Frdric Tordo, and Ritta Baddoura. "Testing Empathy with Robots: A Model in
Four Dimensions and Sixteen Items." International Journal of Social Robotics, 7.1 (2015): 97102.2)

Warwick, Kevin. "The Cyborg Revolution."NanoEthics, 8.3 (2014): 263-273.