Do Computers Think?Can or will computers ever think? Wellthis has been a subject of much debate between even the greatest minds,and yet there is still no answer. First of all I have would like you toanswer a question. What is 4×13? Did you have to think to answer that?Yes? Well does that mean that a computer can think because it can answerthat question.
Well that is what we are going to set to answer and I thinkyes, depending on your definition of thinking. First off let’s get something straight. When I refer to computers in this essay I am not referring only to themicroprocessor sitting on your desk but to microprocessors that controlrobots of various structure. Well as I said we first must define ?tothink’. What does that mean? Webster’s New Compact Dictionary defines ?think’as “1. Have a mind.Order now
2. Believe. 3. Employ the mind.
“. It defines mind as?to think’. So does this mean that if you can think does this mean youhave a mind? My opinion is that, according to this definition, computerscan think. A computer can give you an answer to the question ?What is 4×13?’,so it can think. What’s that? You say it’s just programmed to do that,if no one programmed it wouldn’t be able to do that.
Well how did you knowhow to answer the question? Your teacher or parent’s or someone taughtit to you. So you were programmed, same as the computer was. So you think that programing is differentthan learning. You might think the same as my grandma that programing issomething where things are just drilled into you like people who are membersof cults. Well when your teacher stood over you desk in elementary anddo drilled you on the multiplication tables was that not programming? Wouldyou know that 1×5 does not equal 10 if everyone you ever met said thatit did. Another argument my grandma used was my little cousin and how whenhe runs into a wall he learns that it hurts so he doesn’t do it again.
(Well actually he does it because he has a hard head). Yet a professorin Calgary builds robots that do not even contain a microprocessor yetit can learn. He builds them out of spare part from broken electronicssuch as walkman’s. They have multiple legs and when one leg get’s stuck,say on a piece of tape, the strain on the motor causes the motor to changethe twisting motion of the leg and this feedback system continues untilit gets free, but the second time it takes less time to get free becausesome how it knows, what to do to get free. So it has learned and thereforemust be able to think according to that definition of think.
My mother says that what makes it thatcomputers can’t think is they can not handle situations they have not beenprogrammed to handle. Well there are now robots that can navigate througha room where they have not been programmed to handle but they can navigatethrough it without bumping into anything. They can’t do it with the efficiencyof a human but they can do it. So once again they can think according toa definition of ?to think’. My dad felt that a computer would not beable to think because if you put it in a room and never used it, it wouldn’tbe able to think.
Well would you be able to think if you could not hear,touch, see, smell, or taste anything and as such could receive no information. What would you have to think about. Another couple of definition brought upin a conversation was that in order to survive something must be able tothink and that the ability to come up with original ideas was proof thatsomething can think. The Calgary professor mentioned earlier also tookthese robots (without microprocessors) and gave them solar panels so theycould get their own energy. He also gave some a device that allowed itto disable other robots. These robots would wander around a room and theywould fight over the sunniest spots in the room because it was the spotthey stood the best chance of survival.
If these robots disabled anotherone they used it’s ?remains’ along with others to form a barrier aroundthis sunny spot so it would be protected. Well if this behaviour is notproof of the fact that computers can survive and come up with originalidea’s I don’t know what is. So as you can see by all the definitionsI have been able to come up with a computer can think. The most strongobjection I found was that we are living and that is what makes us thinkis just an objection to the fact that something may possibly some day becomesmarter than us.