, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 321–330 | Cite as

Robot as the “mechanical other”: transcending karmic dilemma

  • Min-Sun KimEmail author
Original Article


As the artificial intelligence of computers grows ever-more sophisticated and continues to surpass the capacities of human minds in many ways, people are forced to question alleged ontological categories that separate humans from machines. As we are entering the world which is populated by non-enhanced and enhanced humans, cyborgs, robots, androids, avatars, and clones among them, the desire for evolutionary mastery of the natural world has taken on the two main directions: merging with machines in (1) disembodied forms or (2) embodied forms. As a path to breaking past the discontinuity between humans and machines and enter into a world beyond the “fourth” discontinuity, machines are viewed as an evolutionary step toward the “perfection” or “immortality” of humans. However, this popular, instrumental views of machines, stemming from the existential death anxiety and the hope for transcending mortality, reveals the karmic dilemma of desiring or grasping something. We shall discuss the possibility that machines can present, ultimately, a revolutionary step rather than an evolutionary step toward understanding “who we are.” The path toward a continuity with machines lies not in our desire for merging with the robots, but in recognizing the arbitrary nature of all such identity categories. This radical understanding of the self-identity can be seen as a facet of enlightened experience.


Robot Human–machine Self-identity Evolution Revolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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