Dum inter robots sumus, colamus humanitatem

Posted 22 Nov 2008 at 23:59 UTC by steve Share This

Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem - "as long as we are humans, let us be humane" - this famous injunction of Roman philosopher Seneca is one example of a common human feeling that fellow humans should be cherished. A new paper by Dr. John R. Skoyles argues that the origin of this feeling is an interpersonal interface based on mirror neurons that blurs the physical boundaries between ourselves and others of our own species. Skoyles says, "Natural selection created in us a brain that can care in a way which no other animal brain can. It did this because it created a brain that mirrored other individuals." The result is a feeling of empathy for other creatures that's proportional to their similarity - very high empathy for other humans, fairly high empathy for other mammals, less for dissimilar animals, and still less for plants or inanimate objects. Providing a similar mechanism for robots may be essential for complete social interaction with humans. Perhaps in the future someone will say, "Dum inter robots sumus, colamus humanitatem". For more, see Skoyles paper, Why our brains cherish humanity: Mirror neurons and colamus humanitatem (PDF format).

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