Can Machines Think ?
This paper regards several points of view on the subject of, what is commonly referred to as Artificial Intelligence, or AI. AI is the attempt to make machines, specifically computers, perform intelligently through programming. Already, this definition has a problem in that the word intelligence can have many interpretations. This essay will attempt to put forward some ideas for how to approach this problem. It could be said that the human brain is nothing more than a machine, and as we know it to be capable of thought it would be fair to surmise that therefore machines can think and it is probably this, or a similar premise that inspired AI. However, within AI there are many schools of thought. Some believe that if a computer can be programmed correctly to emulate certain human processes, then it is to all intense and purposes thinking as we do. One of the early pioneers in the world of computers, Alan Turing, outlined a test in which participants are asked to interrogate a computer terminal in order to determine whether they are communicating with a human, or a computer program. Examples of programs which were put through the Turing test are ELIZA and SHRDLU both of which attempted to emulate one side of human conversation. But even if these programs did appear to be totally human, could they be said to actually be thinking ? John Searle(1984) puts forward a scenario in an attempt to devalue this idea. He refers to a program by Roger Schank at Yale university which, after being given a story will be able to answer questions regarding it. It would seem at the outset that this program would therefore be understanding the story. Searle then argues that despite not being able to understand Chinese, he would, under the correct circumstances, be able to answers Chinese questions in Chinese, relating to a story also written in Chinese. The scenario is summarised as follows; Sitting isolated in a room, Searle is given a wad of Chinese script,...
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