Science fiction is replete with stories questioning what it means to be human. If it looks like a human and acts like a human, is it human? Artificial lifeforms are perfect vehicles for exploring the human condition. Look no further than Asimov’s The Bicentennial Man or the Star Trek episode, The Measure of a Man, for a thorough examination of the subject.
In the stories, androids struggle to be recognized as people, but in reality it will be humans struggling to withhold that recognition. We already show compassion for machines of every sort, from automobiles to space shuttles. Heck I get sentimental about old computers and clock radios.
Won’t I thank the android that hands me a beer?