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More Human Than Human


More Human Than Human

Dr David Lawrence

(REA Research Fellow, Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle.).

Old Staff Common Room, QUB

Tuesday the 13th March: 3.00pm – 5.00pm

Part of Imagine: A Festival of Ideas

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments… will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time… to die.”

Blade Runner’s Roy Batty is stronger, faster, more resilient, and more intelligent than Homo sapiens. His exploits, far beyond the capability of normal humans, are contrasted with his frailty and transient lifespan, his appreciation of the sights he has seen, and his empathy. Not for nothing does his creator within the mythos term him “more human than human.”

In the future, we may truly make our own match – creating, or causing to be created, beings that could be considered persons just like us. Whether through gene editing, synthetic biology, or even artificial intelligence, we need to think seriously about how to treat these lifeforms. This talk will consider how future beings — intelligent androids, synthezoids, even alternate-substrate sentiences – might fit alongside the “baseline” human and ask whether these alternate beings ought to be considered different to us, and why this may or may not matter in terms of a notion of “human community.” The film Blade Runner, concerned in large part with humanity and its key synthezoid antagonist Roy Batty, offers a frame for discussion.