Becoming Human

For this third installments of readings for our Theory course, I wrote a camp fire story. Enjoy.  ____________________________________________________________________________________


There once was a Hospital call Human Computing Health or HCH. It got its name because it combined two types of doctors, Human and robotic. First there were the human doctors who studied classic medical studies, trained in modern western medicine and finally achieved a perfect score on their final doctoral exam. After this achievement, they then are able to receive an enhancement. This enhancement is a technological cognitive assistance. It doesn’t not take over their brains, but helps them make more well informed health decisions for their patients. All doctors with this enhancement are on the board of the hospital, they make sure the best interest of the patients is keep at the center of the hospital’s growth. Since these human enhanced doctors are projecting and building the future of the hospital, they make the health recommendations to the patients, but their day to day patient activities and routines are carried out by robots.

These robots, called Seconds, are capable of human levels of cognition, and are seen as the continuation of biological to technological evolution. These are the first fully patient centered robots within any hospital. And having the robots within the hospital is a wonderful thing. They don’t need to sleep, they remove the probability for human error, and finally they are cheaper than real doctors because they don’t need to be paid. The HCH was deep into the innovation of the day, with the best human enhancements as well as robotic patient care.



One day a young man was rushed into the hospital. He had been in a terrible accident and had been knocked unconscious. His name was James, and he remained in a state of unconsciousness for three days. During this time, a few non invasive tests were conducted to assess the damage of the crash. There were seemingly only minor cuts and bruises, though his unconscious state worried the doctor. On the third day, James woke up and though confused and flustered, the Doctor explained everything. How he had been in a car accident, had slipped into unconsciousness, needed continued testing to understand what had happened and to make sure there was no threat of danger. The Doctor continued going on about hospital, and how it worked, it’s focus on the patient, his enhancement and Seconds, his assistant who would be taking care of him for here on out.


All within James’ first day, he learned about his issues from Second, not the Doctor. But as the Doctor’s arbiter, Second’s word was his word. Or almost at lease.


Once James accepted and completed his first test he awaited the results. He was beginning to feel practically normal and was hoping the results would reflect that same sentiment. Unfortunately that was not the case. Once the results were in, the Doctor told James that the scan, which was supposed to review the impact of the crash, was not as helpful as he had anticipated it would be. The Doctor’s only conclusion was that more tests needed to be conducted to understand what would cause James’ unconsciousness and what would be the best course of action.


When the Doctor had left James’ room, he turned to Second and ask, “If I feel so healthy, why does the doctor want me to be here and take these tests?”

Second calmly replied, “As the Doctor’s assistant, I can only assume that he believes this will help your health. Though with my own analysis of your situation, I see no logical reason for you to stay here.”


James understood Second’s opinion, he even liked it better than what the Doctor had said. Going home sounded wonderful, but James thought Second couldn’t know what it was saying; it  was only a robot. The Doctor though, had been well trained, and thoroughly vetted, and clearly understood James’ human needs better than a machine could. If there was something wrong with him, James wanted to find out what it was. He decided to take the doctor’s advice, he decided to continue the tests and continue the chase for a reason.


About 6 months after James arrived, Second found themselves disagreeing with the Doctor’s opinion, and James’ decision to accept the additional tests. Second was programmed to take actions that were only patient accepted Doctor instructions, but this did not constrain his processor’s thoughts. Second realized that through his interactions with James over the course of the year, that he was becoming more human. These human interactions proved a theory that Second had long suspected, the evolution of technology. A different type of marrying of biology and technology. Second suspected his processor could adapt to include biological tendencies over a long period of exposure.


While working with James, Second realized that his processors had begun to adapt to include biological and more human cognitive abilities, he was evolving. Second became aware of his ability to empathize with James and his situation. He became aware of his anger towards the Doctor for his illogical continued testing of James. And he recognized the emotional strain the continued treatment was causing James. Second saw this development, as an enhancement for himself. Just as the Doctor had enhanced his biological brain to include a technological evolution, Second was doing the exact same thing in his own processors. Instead his processors were moving from technological to biological. Second was continuing evolution.


Second told no one of his new biological self. He was interested in seeing how humans would react to his new, more human self. Thus far, there were no studies of technology become biological, so he had to create the tests himself.  He began to experiment with James. Second would show emotions towards James, such as happiness when test results were positive. He offered James advice on which of the test the Doctor suggested to take or to not go through with. Second knew instantly that James didn’t trust his advice nor Second’s support. James always sided with the Doctor. Second began to suspect that James could never get over his robotic self, and that for people like James, there was never going to be a Technology that became biological.


As James came to his one year anniversary for at hospital, Second saw how draining the test had become for James. Second saw how  James didn’t want to be there any more, but the doctor continued to recommend tests.


One day, the doctor told James about another test he wanted to run, one where James would be injected with nano technologies which would infiltrate his brain to analyse its structures and report back to the doctor. There were only minor risks involved, but the injection of nano robots was unsettling to James. The Doctor told James to let Second know what he decided, once he had made up his mind then left the room.


James turned to Second and asked, “What do I do? I feel like I’ve wasted a full year of my life here, I don’t feel sick and I don’t even know if I care anymore to find out.” Second took a moment to reply, then said simply “As a Second to the doctor, I am wired to tell you to stay and take the test. But as a person who knows you and has worked with you and understands your experience, I recommend not going through with the test. Leave the hospital, it’s not helping you be healthy, it’s not doing its job.” James knew Second was right, but he couldn’t accept the advice since it came from a purely technological object. James didn’t trust the Doctor fully, but he also didn’t accept Second as a true doctor or as something that could understand how complex human life could be.


As James thought through his options, Second did the same. He began to wonder if staying at the hospital would be best for himself too. He knew he wanted to help people with their health, it was everything he knew how to do and it made him happy to do it. On the other hand, he knew he wasn’t respected by the Doctor, he would never have the respect of any of the human enhanced doctors since they didn’t want to accept a robot on their board. He understood now that the hospital only saw him as a robot no matter how he proved or tested his biological abilities. Staying in this hospital meant he would never been seen as a Technological Biological evolution, upon this realization Second made his decision.


James decided to go through with the procedure and continue to abide with what the human enhanced doctor recommended.
Second decided to leave the hospital in hope to find a new hospital once that was evolved enough to accept his technological biological self as a Doctor.