Can Computers Think? The Case For And Against Artificial Intelligence

1238 words - 5 pages

Artificial intelligence has been the subject of many bad '80'smovies and countless science fiction novels. But what happens when weseriously consider the question of computers that think. Is it possible forcomputers to have complex thoughts, and even emotions, like homo sapien? Thispaper will seek to answer that question and also look at what attempts are beingmade to make artificial 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 support soas to effectively eliminate the possibility ...view middle of the document...

"(Discover, 106) Put another way, a computer can actually achieve thoughtbecause it "merely follows rules that tell it how to shift symbols without everunderstanding the meaning of those symbols." (Discover, 106) On the other sideof the debate are the advocates of pandemonium, explained by Robert Wright inTime thus: "[O]ur brain subconsciously generates competing theories about theworld, and only the 'winning' theory becomes part of consciousness. Is that anearby fly or a distant airplane on the edge of your vision? Is that a baby cryingor a cat meowing? By the time we become aware of such images and sounds,these debate have usually been resolved via a winner-take-all struggle. Thewinning theory-the one that best matches the data-has wrested control of ourneurons and thus our perceptual field." (54) So, since our thought is based onprevious experience, computers can eventually learn to think.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.Kasparov eventually won (4-2), but it raised the legitimate question, if a computercan beat the chess champion of the world at his own game (a game thought of asthe ultimate 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 ofintelligence across the table." (Time, 55) But, eventually everyone, includingKasparov, realized that what amounts to nothing more than brute force, whileimpressive, is not thought. Deep Blue could consider 200 million moves asecond. But it lacked the intuition good human players have. Fred Guterl,writing in Discover, explains. "Studies have shown that in a typical position, astrong human play considers on average only two moves. In other words, theplayer is choosing between two candidate moves that he intuitively recognizes,based on prior experience, as contributing to the goals of ...

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