Tok Can a Machine Know

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Can a Machine Know?

Martin Eddy
6/5/10 TOK
Word Count: 1213
In today’s day and age, the question “Can a Machine Know?” is very important and relevant to what we are doing with machines in making them more and more humanlike and capable of human functions. A machine, as defined on “is an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work.” That seems simple enough, not very complicated at all. But then if you look up “know”, the definition is very hard to grasp. defines “know” as: “to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty.” This doesn’t give much justice to the word and requires you to define other terms such as understand and truth and certainty. It is much easier to use the term as defined according to Plato. His view is regarded to be the “classical” definition. According to Plato, at least three criteria must be satisfied in order for there to be knowledge; a statement must be justified, true and believed. And so if a machine meets all these requirements then it must in fact know.

With machines, the main argument against their capabilty to know is that everything they can do is because humans programmed them to do it. Machines cannot do anything on a whim; they have no imagination or creativity. Creativity is one of the things that makes humans rather special and not just walking computer processors. It enables us to make decisions which are not based simply on algorithms or past history or other data. We can be bold, reckless, brave, and foolish or act in many other emotional ways. This is impossible to program as emotions do not lend themselves to mathematical analysis. Yet emotions are an essential part of knowledge. For example I know whether I am happy today or not and it probably affects what I do today more than the facts I actually know. Computers can never be happy or sad. They cannot love...
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