What did Sydney Harris mean when he said that “The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers”?

by sarahdaa

It is well known that humans have emotions. Some emotions don’t even have a word to describe it, but they are still experienced. Sydney Harris probably saw it to be dangerous that humans would start becoming computers because the emotions that humans experience are exactly what make them “human”. The word “human” has become an adjective, and it is characterized by the different emotions that we have. Computers, on the contrary, are characterized by their mechanical processes, and their inputs and outputs. The danger in “becoming” computers would be that we would not be able to differentiate between right and wrong, or happy and sad, or patient and angry. We would be emotionless. We would not be the social animals that psychology categorizes us as. We would just do what we were told, follow the input and produce an output. Emotions play a large role in the natural personality of humans, and becoming a computer would lose that. Often today, teenagers are seen glued to their computer screens or their iPhones. This is an ideal example of humans becoming computers. If one was to attempt conversation with these technology-obsessed teenagers, they would barely respond due to their undivided attention to their devices. And it is becoming popular to incessantly reference a “meme” from the internet. In that case, humans are becoming like computers. A computer is only as capable and helpful as the person operating it. Humans can act as their own individual, and have no one controlling their emotions. Therefore, Sydney Harris meant that humans should not become computers because it would mean the end of feelings and emotions itself. 

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