When discussing the nature of an individual’s beliefs about intelligence, knowledge or the learning process, I have noticed in a number of discussion forum threads on EDEDC and ULOE11 that it can be a useful device to refer to an artificial intelligence agent, knowledge-based computer systems or robot.
Hayles (1999, pp 23-24) mentioned Philip Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (which was the basis for the Blade Runner movie) through which a number of personal identity and ethical issues are explored. I have previously mentioned some of these issues as having been raised at http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/1/blade.htm
This transferance of the argument to an artificial agent can help avoid the over emphasis of human traits or superior species assumptive arguments. The more we observe of animals and consider artificial agents, the more we will come to realise we are just another type of soft machine. Recent studies apparently show we can even share blood transfusions with chimpanzees, as they are so closely related to us. Dolphins may have a different type of intelligence, but should we put such intelligent creatures in zoos? A recent article by Montgomery (2011) on “How Smart is an Octopus” is fascinating. See http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6474/
Hayles, N. Katherine, (1999) “Towards embodied virtuality” from Hayles, N. Katherine, “How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics” pp.1-25,293-297, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press
Montgomery, Syd (2011) “Deep Intellect: Inside the mind of the octopus”, Orion Magazine, November/December 2011.