We humans tend to think of ourselves as special, the culmination of the evolutionary tree. But that hardly seems credible to an astronomer, aware that although our Sun formed 4.5 billion years ago, it is barely in middle age. Should we regret our eventual obsolescence or try to prevent it -- to rage, rage against the dying of the mites, as it were?
The military was excited about these for many more reasons though: smart mines can hop and sense, and therefore the government could argue they're not land mines, they're smart robots. That means they aren't subject to the international anti-personnel landmine treaties. And since they can move, they're much harder to find and disarm. Great for war. Not so great for cleaning up after war.
What exactly is consciousness and are humans the only ones who can possess it? This is a question that has vexed philosophers for millennia. It's a debate being taken up not just by philosophers and psychologists, but also AI researchers. Is consciousness another word for "soul"? And, if so, can a robot have one?