The End of the Beginning for the Brain

  • Books et al. Neurobiology
Replicant's end. Publicity still from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). CREDIT: LADD COMPANY/WARNER BROS./THE KOBAL COLLECTION

Science-fiction novels and films have long popularized the notion that machines will, sooner or later, match and ultimately exceed human-level intelligence. On the way they will acquire feelings and consciousness. In the most famous such movie, Blade Runner, a replicant exclaims in the face of its imminent demise,

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

—revealing in its eloquence and poignancy its (simulated) humanity. 

Vol. 339
no. 6121 pp. 759-76