The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 62: “His Silicon Soul″

This week, Batman goes up against an opponent who’s an equal match in mind and muscle! It’s…Robo-Batman? Born inside Cybertron (really!), and seeking to understand the mystery of his existence, this fully functional android has been designed to emulate the memories, personality, and even the physical body of Batman. But upon discovering that his insides are literally metal and wires, the sentient Bat-Bot is determined to find his maker.  He ultimately discovers he’s part of a larger mission designed by a machine who wants to replace the entire human race with duplicants!

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we briefly revisit the original “Heart of Steel” story to explore the nature of grief and loss, understanding why the duplicant Batman might represent a failed attempt of recreating humanity. We discuss the concepts of self-awareness, sentience, and consciousness when it comes to artificial intelligence. Robots may be capable of some functions related to human cognition — like perception/vision, language, planning, problem-solving– and therefore be considered “autonomous” intelligent agents. But can robots be equipped with moral reasoning? Some say no– robots can never have empathy, a core feature of humanity, and therefore will always be “sociopathic.”

Ultimately, Batman discovers a way to overcome his bot-twin, and it has a lot to do with his own moral reasoning and personal core values. Like his battle with his bot-counterpart, Brian and the Doc wrestle with the uniqueness of human consciousness. What truly gives us identity? Our physical body, our true experiences and memories, or our “programming”?  Calling up existential themes from Blade Runner, the Terminator, Star Trek, and other sci-fi adventures we love, the episode is one of our favorites!

The clip demonstrating self-consciousness in robots can be found here

Dr. Letamendi’s TEDx talk, “Capes, Cowls, and Courage,” can be found here!

Have psychology related questions about Batman? Write to us via twitter @ArkhamSessions or on Facebook. Or visit our official website.

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