Can Machines Think Like Humans Philosophy Essay
PHIL 201: Introduction to Philosophy; Short Paper #1
February 28, 2013
It has wires, microchips, cooling fans, infinite amount of memory, software, and endless possibilities of improvement. Technology is the subject matter of which I’m explaining. With that said these technologies can range from computers to robots and anything in between. The point of this paper is to argue that machines (computers) are often looked at as a pile of sophisticated nut and bolts, metaphorically speaking, but my point is that these machines (computers) have this ability to "think" the same way at which we do.
There are a few key philosophers throughout history that have pondered this question, can machines "think" like humans. I believe that establishing their points of view will be essential to summarizing more or less the background needed for this subject matter. One crucial philosopher that needs to be discussed is Alan Turing (1912-1954), a British mathematician, and decoder of the German war codes during WWII. Turing famous for developing the "Turing Test" for this argument and has held true for a long time. Turing describes this as "imitation game," this game is play by three people, one call A (the male), the other B (female), and C (the interrogator (who could be either male or female)). Player C is separate from A and B, and his goal is to figure out which player, to him are considered X and Y, is of what sex. But the object of the game is for the player B to help player C figure out which one is which. And there are a lot of variables that are controlled like someone relaying message or something being typed on a note and passed back and forth to each other. Now Turing, asks the question that "’What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game?’ Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original (question), ‘Can machines think?’"(336, Feinberg). Turing goes on to explain the test in more detail and along with the ifs and buts of the test, but the true point is that this test is a measure of the intelligence of the machine.
John Searle is the next philosopher to challenge this question, but he more or less challenges it by rejecting the "Turing Test." He propose the "Chinese room" thought experiment to show that the machine has no understanding of what takes place in given situations(Class Notes, 2/12/13). The basic premise of the "Chinese room" experiment is that a man that has no knowledge about any Chinese in nature (language, writing, etc.), is put into a room with basically cheat sheets on how to interpret the writing his given and how to write the response. Searle provides a theory that the man would pass as a native Chinese speaker because of the responses, which would pass the "Turing Test", but not actually understanding what was going on. He relates this back to machines but stating, no matter how convincing these programs may be at imitating humans, they do not understand the conversations, "The computer’s understanding is not just…partial or incomplete; it is zero" (347, Feinberg). From this Searle presents the notion of intentionally he describes it as "(the) feature of certain mental states by which they are directed at or about objects and states of affairs in the world" (347, Feinberg). He sees computers and their programs as lacking intentionally, therefore not able to truly understand a given situation. He only sees it as the computers can produce certain outputs for certain inputs.
Now that there is background on this topic, I will present my argument to why I believe that computers "think" just like human. I would first like to start off with the statement that I am arguing that machines can "think" like human, not that machines can feel human emotion nor be able to have the human experience (love, sensory emotion, etc.). I feel that the world of Technology has yet to produce such an advancement of this kind. Merely I am arguing that the way in which machines "think" is similar to that of a human. The computers in a way are built like a brain. They both have memories, thought processes, produce a certain type of individuality (ranging from different software to just different layouts). These memories for machines may be more readily captured and retrieved, and the thought processes take place because of a certain coding map, and that individuality may come from the user themselves. But isn’t that what human can also do. We can retrieved and capture certain memories (for most of us) or maybe all of them (for limited few), don’t we as humans use certain clues or methods (map) in which we solve problems or to just process everyday life. We are selves allow other to design how we should create our personalities or allow them to influence either in a positive or negative way. Though it doesn’t stop there, take into consideration that way in which the two operate. We (Human) learn through experience that we have gain over certain time periods. The same happens with computers, they are able to take the information that its gain over a time periods to personalize its interface so that it’s more suitable for the user. Like the way Google is able to use advertisement that is suitable to a person’s preference base only on what they have been accustomed to searching or common themes from website that have been visited.
A critic like Searle would disagree with this though he would suggest the "thinking" process that which a machine has is that it has a list of certain outputs programmed for only certain inputs that a user produces. But the same can be said for humans. We have certain programmed reactions to a certain action or inputs. For example we as humans have a basic instinct to survive, this instinct is triggered by certain instances that which our lives are in danger. Though I’m not saying a machine can feel pain or joy or any human emotion. I am merely stating that the way in which the two relate. I computer knows what it is that it’s doing and understands it, because if it did not then how would it be able to do it. Even if it’s a program that a human has input, that computer will have to understand it program in order to follow it. The understanding of which would meet the requirement of intentionality of Searle, because it has a feature of a mental state as which it is direct at and about the objects at it interacts with.
In conclusion I firmly believe that computer (Technology) has advance enough to the point that the "thinking" process is similar to that of humans. Because of certain characteristics that computers have during their thinking process is what makes them "think" the ways at which humans think. Humans have made a sophisticated pile of nuts and bolts into a machine to have a thought process that is similar to ours.