Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that deals with creating intelligent machines that can reason, learn, and solve problems like humans. One of the goals of AI is to create computers that can think and make decisions on their own.
However, there is still much debate on whether or not computers can actually think. Some people believe that computers can only simulate thinking, while others believe that they are capable of true thought. There is no clear answer yet, but research in this area is ongoing.
One thing is for sure though: computers are becoming more and more advanced every day, and they are slowly but surely getting closer to human-level intelligence. So it’s only a matter of time until we find out for sure whether or not they can actually think.
First, we need to ask what is meant by “thinking.” There are many different definitions of thinking, but for the purposes of this paper, we will say that thinking is the ability to take in information, process it, and form new ideas or opinions based on that information. It is also the ability to solve problems. So, can computers do these things?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, computers can take in information and process it. They can even solve problems. But no, they cannot do these things like humans can. Humans have something that computers do not have: intuition. Intuition is the ability to see relationships between things that are not immediately obvious. It’s what allows us to see the big picture. And it’s what allows us to come up with new ideas.
So, while computers can do some of the things that we associate with thinking, they will never be able to do all of them. They will never be able to think like humans do.
Before we can see whether computers can think, we must first determine what exactly thinking is. Examining the three most common theories is sort of like looking at different religions. None of them provides enough evidence to completely eliminate the chance that the others are accurate.
The first theory is that thinking is simply a matter of manipulating symbols. According to this theory, thoughts are just strings of symbols that are manipulated according to certain rules. This manipulation can be done by machines just as well as by humans. The second theory is that thinking involves mental states such as beliefs and desires.
According to this theory, thoughts are more than just strings of symbols. They are also mental states that can be cause other mental states. The third theory is that thinking involves consciousness. This theory holds that thoughts cannot be reduced to symbols or mental states. Thoughts are conscious experiences that we have.
So, which of these theories is correct? Well, it might be the case that all of them are partially correct. Or it might be the case that none of them are completely correct. We just don’t know for sure.
What we do know is that computers can manipulate symbols. They can also cause other symbols to be manipulated in certain ways. And they can even have some sort of consciousness. But whether or not this means that computers can think is still an open question.
What is intelligence, exactly? One of the most compelling reasons for believing there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that it has the ability to adapt to its surroundings. Desktop computers, for example, can visit a given World Wide Web address. However, if the address were modified, it would be unable to figure out how to get there (or even whether it should). Intelligence is defined as the capacity to complete a task while considering changing circumstances.
This is a difficult concept to unpack, and there are many examples we could give. In general, we would say that an intelligent system is one that can take in new information and use it to improve its performance. A desktop computer can’t do this; if you give it a new task, it will likely perform just as well or poorly as it did before.
In contrast, artificial intelligence (AI) systems are designed to get better over time. They learn from experience and get smarter the more they are used. This is why AI systems are often referred to as machine learning (ML) systems.
One of the most famous examples of an AI system is Deep Blue, developed by IBM in the 1990s. Deep Blue was designed to play chess and ultimately beat the then-world champion, Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue did just that in 1997, making it one of the most celebrated achievements in AI history.
Interestingly, Deep Blue wasn’t actually that intelligent. It didn’t understand chess the way a human does. Instead, it used a brute force approach, considering every possible move and selecting the one that would be most likely to lead to a win.
Despite its lack of true intelligence, Deep Blue’s victory was seen as a major achievement for AI. It showed that computers could outperform humans at certain tasks and raised questions about what else they might be able to do.
So, can computers think? The debate is as heated among experts as the appeal of Superman versus Batman is among pre-pubescent boys. On the other hand are scientists who claim that programs are nothing more than a set of rules dictating how symbols should be moved without regard to their meaning.
In other words, computers can never really understand what they are doing, they just do it. On the other hand are those scientists who believe that computers might one day be able to think. Artificial intelligence expert Marvin Minsky believes that we could program a computer to be conscious. (Howstuffworks) This would involve creating a robot with sensors and giving it the ability to learn from its surroundings in order to make decisions. (Howstuffworks) The robot would need to have some sort of “common sense” in order to know how to react in different situations.
Is that a fly on the wing of your vision or an airplane high in the sky? Is that a baby crying or a cat meowing? By the time we become aware of such images and sounds, these debates have generally been settled by a winner-take-all struggle. The winning theory has taken control of our neurons, gaining access to our perceptual field and influencing how we think.
They can also be programmed to think like humans by artificial intelligence. However, some people believe that computers will never be able to think like humans because they lack certain qualities that are unique to humans, such as emotions and consciousness.
The event that brought this issue to the public eye was Garry Kasparov, the reigning chess world champion, competing against Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer with 32 microprocessors in a six-game chess match. However, Kasparov eventually prevailed (4-2), raising the valid question of whether a computer can defeat the chess world champion at his own game (a game considered to be the pinnacle of human intellect). Even Kasparov stated that he could feel something new on the other side of the table.
The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that it conflates intelligence with a single human ability. It’s like saying because a tortoise can’t outrun a hare, therefore it must be stupid. Rather, what we should say is that the hare is better at running than the tortoise, but the tortoise is better at other things- like living a long time. In the same way, computers are very good at certain kinds of tasks- like chess- but not others. To really answer the question of whether or not computers can think, we need to understand what we mean by thinking.
Thinking, according to most cognitive scientists, involves three main components: reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.