*disclaimer* I'm not an expert on this topic, just an "armchair enthusiast" and just curious to see what some of your opinions are on the matter.
As a people, we like to ascribe human like traits to objects and humanize them. Whether is be describing an electronic device as "acting up", "temperamental" or by treating a reliable tool as a friend with a spirit or soul.
Often in fiction and pop culture we see robots and AI trying to become "human" or at least assume human like properties. This would make sense, as most often we see robots being built in human form (ie. Androids/gynoids) and ipso facto if it looks human, it must be human. This is where I pose the following questions: Can an artificial being ever become alive? Can a living human ever become a robot? Could it simply be that as constructs of humans, we place our humanity in them?
We are alive. We know this, automatically without any definition. Philosophies, Religions and our own unique experiences may set up different definitions of life, but Science sets up seven characteristics that truly make something qualify as living. These things are:
1) Composed of cells
2) Have different levels of organization
3) Use Energy
4) Respond to environment
Artificial intelligence is in its infancy, but thus far it could behave like form of bacteria; completing simple tasks, and self replicating. Were it to evolve to the level of human intelligence would that be considered alive? For example:
-Its cells would be programs of binary code (like biological DNA)
-Its different levels of organization would be the various levels of code (from simple if/than statements to more complex mIRC programs)
-An AI feeds on electricity
-It would respond/interact with the people in its environment,
-Grow in its level of advancement
-Asexually reproduce by making copies
-Add new programs and code to allow for changing technologies.
Looking further into the future, there is the concept of Biometrics. Biometric technology would allow for the artificial creation of natural organs/tissues from mechanical parts. The artificial heart and the kidney dialysis machine were the first such organs to be developed. With the more recent understandings of the human brain (with the MRI, fMRI and other scanners), its could be possible to simulate neurochemical glands or fabricate artificial neurons effectively making "replacement parts" for damaged brain tissues. The idea of cell sized "nanobots" similarly gives rise to the concept of creating artificial tissues, or even entire organs composed of fabricated cells.
Many of you may have heard the parable of the "Greek ship"; if you have a ship and over the course of many years swap out every piece of the ship until nothing of the original is left, is it the same ship? Biometrics may allow for a human to become a machine, as slowly but surely you remove all the organs until nothing of the original remains. The opposite could also be said, as said, as you create an artificial human out of inorganic parts.
It is often said that artists put a little bit of themselves into each artwork. Could it be a simple illusion? Robots only exhibit humanity because we put our own humanity in them, or that we want to see it? This would be the most rational answer, and likely the most prevalent one in most circumstances, save for the fact there are programmers out there who are deliberately trying to make AI's like humans. Perhaps this is a sign that they are succeeding?