A Station Eight Fan Web Site
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I have something to add about the definition of "sentience." Hopefully you remember this comment thread by the time you get to this. It involved talk of "The One" vs. "The Other" and the ethics of destroying planets in Star Trek, etc. Here's my take:
"Sentience" is a distinctly different quality from "Intelligence." Sentience is being self-aware. Therefore just about all life with a backbone is sentient. Intelligence is the ambiguous one. But we don't like ambiguity, so that's why sentience has taken the role it has in popular language. I say my dog is sentient, a frog isn't. I say a human is intelligent, so is a gorrilla, but a dog isn't. I guess it's ALL subjective in the end.
It brings me to another distinction: the one between sentience and artificial intelligence. Coyote, for instance, can throw a zinger, but is he self-aware? I don't think he is. Xanatos hasn't achieved (or would wish to achieve) that much, has he?
I don't believe that the Coyote robots we have seen through "Cloud Fathers" can truly be called sentient. At least not by my definition. I'm not sure if I completely agree with yours.