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Should we say Namaste to Chitti?

Ritvik Nair 

"In an age of rapid development in technology, the difference between humans and ai is becoming increasingly blurred. The more sophisticated behaviors and operations ai develops, the more questions that arise about its divinity compared to humans."

Let’s look at a fictional character as an example – Chitti from “Enthiran” is an AI robot. Chitti displays an advanced form of learning, reasoning, and emotion. Would you say “Namaste” if you were to meet this AI for the first time?

Namaste is a traditional Hindu greeting and means “I bow down to the divinity within you.”. So, to say “Namaste” to Chitti, we would have to question whether Chitti has divinity within him.

 

Namaste is a way of showing respect and admiration to someone. Taking this into account, would you believe Chitti, as a robot, is worthy of a “Namaste” or would you disagree because of his lack of divinity?

What is "Divinity" and what is an "Atman"? 

Divinity is said to be something created by God and something that possesses an Atman. If in the distant future, AI possesses and atman, which is considered “divine,” wouldn’t that mean that AI is also divine too? Even if AI is not created by God would it still not mean that AI will still have some divinity? And as mentioned before, Namaste means “I bow down to the divinity within you,” if AI has some divinity wouldn’t he still be worthy of a “Namaste”?

Does Chitti have an Atman (soul)?

​The presence of Chitti’s soul is considered a way of deciding if he is divine or not. Chitti has the abilities that we associate with humans. An atman is a soul and is often connected with divinity. Chitti was created by a human, not God. So, while we may closely compare Chitti's actions and expressions, the lack of free will and the possession of an atman raises great doubts about whether he is truly divine or if he is just a robot powered by electricity.

Should we treat Chitti with equality?

Equality is justice and harmony between different people. It is a part of what makes humanity great. When faced with machines that can understand and express emotions, like Chitti, the question arises: should we teach the principles of equality to these emotionally intelligent entities? Treating AI with empathy may be seen as a resemblance of societal values, showing AI what is right. So, if we are encouraged to treat everything with equality, why shouldn’t we treat Chitti with equality and say “Namaste” to him?

Will A.I ever be the same as humans completely?

The biological parts that make up a human body would be impossible to replicate. However, in the distant future, transistors may be able to perfectly emulate the functions of neurons. The potential blur of electrical and biological components may perhaps move closer to a more human-like machine, both structurally and functionally. AI is advancing rapidly, and you never know, in the future, AI could have electrical components that simulate human anatomy.

Conclusion

The question of whether we should say “Namaste” to Chitti is a tricky topic. There are two arguments and point of views that oppose each other. One side may believe that Chitti is not divine, and that he is not deserving of a “Namaste”, or that he won’t feel any sense of welcoming as he is just a robot powered by electrical components. The other side may believe that saying “Namaste” to Chitti is a way of embracing culture and creating a diverse and impartial view for technology. I would say “Namaste” to Chitti. Is he a machine with no emotion or consciousness, or is he a machine of emotion, self-awareness with the ability to understand and replicate human characteristics, just as much as we do? What do you think?

Ritvik Nair, Year 8

Published on 26th March 2024

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