Can Computers Think? The Case For And Against Artificial Intelligence

1238 words - 5 pages

Artificial intelligence has been the subject of many bad 80's movies and countless science fiction novels. But what happens when we seriously consider the question of computers that think. Is it possible for computers to have complex thoughts, and even emotions, like homo sapien? This paper will seek to answer that question and also look at what attempts are being made to make artificial intelligence (hereafter called AI) a reality. Before we can investigate whether or not computers can think, it is necessary to establish what exactly thinking is. Examining the three main theories is sort of like examining three religions. None offers enough support so as to effectively eliminate ...view middle of the document...

"(Discover, 106) Put another way, a computer can actually achieve thought because it "merely follows rules that tell it how to shift symbols without ever understanding the meaning of those symbols." (Discover, 106) On the other side of the debate are the advocates of pandemonium, explained by Robert Wright inTime thus: "[O]ur brain subconsciously generates competing theories about the world, and only the 'winning' theory becomes part of consciousness. Is that a nearby fly or a distant airplane on the edge of your vision? Is that a baby crying or 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. The winning theory-the one that best matches the data-has wrested control of our neurons and thus our perceptual field." (54) So, since our thought is based on previous experience, computers can eventually learn to think. The event which brought this debate in public scrutiny was Garry Kasparov, reigning chess champion of the world, competing in a six game chess match against Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer with 32 microprocessors. Kasparov eventually won (4-2), but it raised the legitimate question, if a computer can beat the chess champion of the world at his own game (a game thought of as the 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 of intelligence across the table." (Time, 55) But, eventually everyone, includingKasparov, 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 it lacked the intuition good human players have. Fred Guterl, writing in Discover, explains. "Studies have shown that in a typical position, a strong human play considers on average only two moves. In other words, the player is choosing between two candidate moves that he intuitively recognizes, based on prior experience, as contributing to the goals of ...


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