The first robot I remember was "Number 5" from "Short Circuit." My mom and my grandmother took me and my uncle to see it in the theater. The whole premise, in case you have never seen it, is about a robot who gets electrocuted and develops a personality. Mainly, I remember his robotic, metallic voice saying "Number five alive!" and "No disassemble!"
Near that was Data- an android from Star Trek. He was unique because of his ability to learn, and even, in the movies, began to feel semblances of emotions.
It was very difficult not to have your heart stolen by the child-robot from AI. It was also difficult not to be freaked out by him and the other robots in the trash dumps who were so terrified of becoming scrap metal, and deactivated, that they lived intense, eternal lives in hiding.
Before that, though, we saw Robin Williams in a movie called Bicentennial man, about a robot who, through time and medical/scientific advancement, became, literally, human and eventually died of old age alongside his lover- who was the grand daughter of the grand daughter of his first owner. Or something like that.
The question of the day is this: WHEN DOES "Sentient" EQUAL "Life"?
For me, out of these robots, I think the most likely situation in which I would consider one of them "alive" would be in #5's case- because it wasn't man made. It wasn't technology so advanced and intricate or so close to human that it could be made by people. It was an electric shock that made something happen- PERHAPS the same spark of life in OUR bodies, in a fully electronic body instead.
Do I really, for all intents and purposes, think that #5 was alive?
No. I think he was a machine.
C3PO? No. Data? No. I Robot? No. Cute/creepy kid robot? No. Robin Williams? Well....maybe HE comes closest, having actually gained such things as skin and reproductive organs (even though they didn't actually let him reproduce.)
The way I really feel about it, though, is that most of the emotions that any of these robots would feel would be man made. A program of some sort to tell them how to react to certain situations. Data called it an "emotion chip."
However, all that being said, I think that life is also much much more complicated than a hunk of flesh vs. a hunk of metal.
The truth of the matter is, i just don't know. This is one topic on which I cannot give a straight up answer. I can't just go out and say that I believe a robot could become alive or that a "live" robot would have as much value as any human being....but then, I can't really say that I would feel okay about "killing" one, or turning it off....I mean, if it were, like the robots mentioned above, afraid of anyone who would DO it.
I must have a bleeding heart.
Anyway, I have to say that I am pretty sure that Wall-E and EVA were completely sentient. They were in love. Maybe THAT is what defines it?
What is YOUR opinion? When does "sentient" equal "life?"