Can Computers Think? The Case For and Against Artificial Intelligence Essay Artificial intelligence has been the subject of many bad “80’s” movies andcountless science fiction novels. But what happens when we seriously considerthe question of computers that think.
Is it possible for computers to havecomplex thoughts, and even emotions, like homo sapien? This paper will seek toanswer that question and also look at what attempts are being made to makeartificial intelligence (hereafter called AI) a reality. Before we can investigate whether or not computers can think, it isnecessary to establish what exactly thinking is. Examining the three maintheories is sort of like examining three religions. None offers enough supportso as to effectively eliminate the possibility of the others being true. Thethree main theories are: 1.Order now
Thought doesn’t exist; enough said. 2. Thoughtdoes exist, but is contained wholly in the brain. In other words, the actualmaterial of the brain is capable of what we identify as thought.
3. Thought isthe result of some sort of mystical phenomena involving the soul and a wholeslew of other unprovable ideas. Since neither reader nor writer is a scientist,for all intents and purposes, we will say only that thought is what we (as homosapien) experience. So what are we to consider intelligence? The most compelling argumentis that intelligence is the ability to adapt to an environment. Desktopcomputers can, say, go to a specific WWW address. But, if the address werechanged, it wouldn’t know how to go about finding the new one (or even that itshould).
So intelligence is the ability to perform a task taking intoconsideration the circumstances of completing the task. So now that we have all of that out of that way, can computers think?The issue is contested as hotly among scientists as the advantages of Supermanover Batman is among pre-pubescent boys. On the one hand are the scientists whosay, as philosopher John Searle does, that Programs are all syntax and nosemantics. (Discover, 106) Put another way, a computer can actually achievethought because it merely follows rules that tell it how to shift symbolswithout ever understanding the meaning of those symbols. (Discover, 106) Onthe other side of the debate are the advocates of pandemonium, explained byRobert Wright in Time thus: Our brain subconsciously generates competingtheories about the world, and only the winning’ theory becomes part ofconsciousness. Is that a nearby fly or a distant airplane on the edge of yourvision? Is that a baby crying or a cat meowing? By the time we become aware ofsuch images and sounds, these debate have usually been resolved via a winner-take-all struggle.
The winning theory-the one that best matches the data-haswrested control of our neurons and thus our perceptual field. (54) So, sinceour thought is based on previous experience, computers can eventually learn tothink. The event which brought this debate in public scrutiny was GarryKasparov, reigning chess champion of the world, competing in a six game chessmatch against Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer with 32 microprocessors. Kasparoveventually won (4-2), but it raised the legitimate question, if a computer canbeat the chess champion of the world at his own game (a game thought of as theultimate thinking man’s game), is there any question of AI’s legitimacy? Indeed,even Kasparov said he could feel-I could smell- a new kind of intelligenceacross the table. (Time, 55) But, eventually everyone, including Kasparov,realized that what amounts to nothing more than brute force, while impressive,is not thought.
Deep Blue could consider 200 million moves a second. But itlacked the intuition good human players have. Fred Guterl, writing in Discover,explains. Studies have shown that in a typical position, a strong human playconsiders on average only two moves. In other words, the player is choosingbetween two candidate moves that he intuitively recognizes, based on priorexperience, as contributing to the goals of the position. Seeking to go beyond the brute force of Deep Blue in separate projects,are M.
I. T. professor Rodney Brooks and computer scientist Douglas Lenat. Thedesire to conquer AI are where the similarities between the two end. Brooks is working on an AI being nicknamed Cog. Cog has cameras foreyes, eight 32-bit microprocessors for a brain and soon will have a skin-likemembrane.
Brooks is allowing Cog to learn about the world like a baby .