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Can a Machine Know?

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  • December 2006
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CAN A MACHINE KNOW?

As technology advances rapidly, machines have replaced humans in many aspects of daily life. People had to rely on horses for transportation in the past, but now there are cars, trains, planes, and even space shuttles that one can use to get from place to place. A simple machine such as the calculator can calculate numbers with greater speed and accuracy than the human brain. A machine is a thing that stores information, remembers it and performs according to what it has been programmed to do. However, do they know what they are doing? There is an uncertainty in the definition of ‘knowing' something. How does one define what it means to know something? Its definition is depended on one's bias. Even though one could argue that machines do know, it is more convincing to say that machines only do what they are programmed to do.

Machines are only capable of storing information and remembering it. All machines were created by human beings. Machines have a memory that allows them to store information, and only does what it is programmed to do. They do not have emotion or thoughts like humans. Human beings' reactions are affected by language, emotion, and possibly perception. However, machines do not have that. They can only react according to how they have been programmed to do so.

One might argue that machines can know in certain areas of knowledge, such as in mathematics. Again, the whole discussion depends on the definition of ‘knowing' something. Calculators, even though made by human beings, can perform calculations faster and more accurately than humans. In fact, they are never wrong. On the other hand, there is possibility that human beings could make calculation mistakes. Nonetheless, human beings can think. Human beings can use certain formulas and equations to find more things. The major difference between human beings and machines is that humans can think and machines can not. Machines like calculators only function and...

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