I think that being human is largely about those things that we cannot—for the foreseeable future—compute, measure, algorithmically define, simulate, or completely understand. What makes us human, in my view, is not mathematical or even just chemical or biological. It involves those things that are largely unnoticed, unsaid, subconscious, ephemeral, and unobjectifiable. These are the human essences that I like to call androrithms that we absolutely must keep even if they appear to be clumsy, complicated, slow, risky, or inefficient compared to nonbiological systems, computers, and robots.
We should not attempt to mend or upgrade, or otherwise eradicate what makes us human; rather, we should design technology to know and respect these differences—and protect them. Unfortunately, the slow but systematic reduction or even discarding of androrithms has already started all around us. For example, social networks allow us to create our own profiles as we see fit, and revel in our fabricated identities, rather than wrestle with the one we actually have in real life, aka in our meatspace.
The brilliant—if somewhat politically derailed —German philosopher Martin Heidegger stated in his book Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) that “a human being is the only entity which in its existence has this very Being as an issue.” The German word dasein (being there) really describes it best.
Dasein speaks to the core of the difference between (wo)man and machine and is an important theme throughout this book: It is the sentient being that is at the core of our human desires—the mind, the spirit, or the soul, that elusive part of us that we cannot seem to define or even locate, but that nevertheless runs our lives.