Is it Sentient? Or just Programming?
With He, She, and It by Marge Piercy now finished, we are left with the thought that Yod is a sentient being, capable of all life functions. First, he is capable of higher thought, meaning that he is able to learn about different situations, and how to handle them, adapting to his surrounds one might say. He is self-aware, knowing what will happen when becomes a bomb. He is aware that he will die, and leave the living behind. Yod displays his ability to chose, “‘Father, I do make choices’, Yod said reasonably. ‘My choice is now to leave quickly with Shira'” (276).
This reminds me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Lt. Commander Data is put on trial to determine if he is sentient or property.
In the end, it is determined by the court that Data will have the freedom of choice, and as such, refuses to be taken apart and studied so that more may be built of him. This brings about the idea that a being that is able to chose its own fate is a sentient being. Yod is a bit odd is saying he does not have the right to chose, yet he displays his ability to chose. “‘I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a soldier, a weapon, but at least people sometimes have a choice to obey or refuse. I had none'” (415). Here Yod is most likely referring to his creation as being a weapon (the defender of the town), but he chose to eliminate himself, his creator Avram, and all notes on him, despite one of his core programming principles being defend Avram. While a majority of our focus was on determine if Yod was human, we skipped over determining if Yod was sentient. I believe Yod is a sentient being, because he displays characteristics associated with sentience.
Piercy, Marge. He, She And It. New York, The Random House Publishing Group. 1991.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjuQRCG_sUw – Video