Mimic The Human Mind
The mind-body problem has captivated the
minds of philosophers for centuries. The problem is how the body
and mind can interact with each other if they are separate and distinct.
One solution to the problem is to replace any mental term with a more accurate
physical description. Eliminative Materialists take this idea to
the extreme by stating that everything that is believed to be mental will
someday be explained in terms of the physical world. One way that
people try to prove Eliminative Materialism to be true is through technology.
Certainly if we are able to create computers and software that mimic the
human mind, then Eliminative Materialism is a sound solution to the mind-body
problem. In order to examine if computers actually do mimic the human
mind then we must first look at the capabilities of the human mind.
If one looks closely at the capabilities of the human mind and compares
them to the most recent technological advances, then it would be obvious
that computers and software are beginning to mimic even the most advanced
mental states. In the future, computers will be able to do anything
the human mind is capable of thus proving Eliminative Materialism to be
a sound solution to the mind-body problem.
Most of the day the human mind is taking
in information, analyzing it, storing it accordingly, and recalling past
knowledge to solve problems logically. This is similar to the life
of any computer. Humans gain information through the senses.
Computers gain similar information through a video camera, a microphone,
a touch pad or screen, and it is even possible for computers to analyze
scent and chemicals. Humans also gain information through books,
other people, and even computers, all of which computers can access through
software, interfacing, and modems. For the past year speech recognition
software products have become mainstream(Lyons,176). All of the ways
that humans gain information are mimicked by computers. Humans then
proceed to analyze and store the information accordingly. This is
a computer’s main function in today’s society. Humans then take all
of this information and solve problems logically. This is where things
get complex. There are expert systems that can solve complex problems
that humans train their whole lives for. In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue
defeated the world champion in a game of chess(Karlgaard, p43). Expert
systems design buildings, configure airplanes, and diagnose breathing problems.
NASA’s Deep Space One probe left with software that lets the probe diagnose
problems and fix itself(Lyons). All of this shows that computers
are capable of taking information and solving complex problems. This
is where current technology put obstacles in the way of Artificial Intelligence.
The human mind is a complex system of brain
cells or neurons which accomplishes all of these tasks. Silicon chips,
the hardware a computer, is extremely similar to the human brain.
The human brain has over ten billion cells, and the largest cell has 200,000
inputs(Levin,30). Neurons run in parallel which adds up to trillions
of connections per second. Most PC’s run about thirty million connections
per second. This is a far cry from the capabilities of the human
mind but as technology advances neural technology will begin to close the
gap between the two.
This is the major obstacle to tackle in
order to build a machine that thinks the same way that a human brain does.
Think of it this way. The human mind has had thousands of years to
evolve into what we understand of it today. The field of Artificial
Intelligence roots started in 1965. As we learn more about the human
mind and neural network technology improves we will be able to hurdle all
obstacles to mimicking the human mind.
There are computer scientists, engineers,
and neurologists researching solutions for these obstacles as you read.
The human brain is capable of creativity, learning and emotions.
These are the areas where computers lack the technology to compete with
humans but they are working on it. Take creativity for example.
“Aaron”, an invention of Harold Cohen, produces artwork that Cohen
has no way of predicting what Aaron is going to do(Boden). Not only
is the artwork an original painting but it is also pleasant to look at.
Paul Hodgson’s program Improviser is a music composer that plays a unique
performance in real time(Boden). This does not prove that a computer
has creativity in the same sense that humans do but it is a start.
Human creativity springs from association. One has spontaneous thoughts
or actions that are a result of many different past experiences that are
related by this new thought. “Copycat”, the brain child of Hofstadter,
is closer to this type of thought than any other program(Boden).
In her article “Artificial Genius” Boden states “Hofstadter believes that
capturing the processes that make up creative thinking in a computer program
is possible, given that computer could be made big enough and fast enough
to rival the vast complexity of the human brain.”
Artificial intelligence experts are starting
to mimic the human brains function of learning. Scientists at MIT
are trying to create a machine that simulates the way that humans learn
through the senses. The robot stated out as a baby, that is no code
to base decisions on. Rodney Brooks, the developer, is concentrating
on eye-hand coordination and face recognition and hoping that one day it
will use the information to make discoveries of it’ own(Smith). Doug
Lenat is trying to teach a computer common sense in hope that the computer
will “reason” on its own(Smith). He is trying to accomplish this
by manually entering over two million common sense statements such as ice
is frozen. Geoffrey Yuen is developing a robot that can learn to
do tasks that are too dangerous for humans. Yuen is trying to teach the
robot to find a location, remember that site, and return to the same spot.
He most first teach the robot to move around obstacles, process information,
and learn from its experiences by using the information in future action(Smith).
Although these are extremely simple tasks it is a break through on the
frontier of computers learning from past experiences.
Emotions is an area of artificial intelligence
is just beginning to research in this year. If computers could have
emotional intelligence then they would be able to respond to the user.
Dr. Bernhrd Kammeer is teaching devices how to detect and interpret speech,
facial expressions, and finger movements. In the article “Computers
with Attitudes” Udo Flohr states, “Emotional intelligence, these scientists
propose, will help machines recognize and adapt to the users’ actions and
intentions, offering help and support when needed or scaling down the amount
of time interaction to fit stressful situations.” This would only
satisfy understanding emotions, what about actually experiencing them?
Infantile emotions are a result of interacting with other people.
Cynthia Breazeal developed Kismet, a robot that socially interacts and
has emotions. This is accomplished by human drives that become satisfied
or not by human stimulus. The robot reacts accordingly. Happiness
is shown by an open mouth and raised eyebrow and eyelids. Sadness
is shown by a clamped mouth, lowered ears and eyelids(Fung). Kismet
has the emotions of a new born child that could evolve into full human
emotions. Kismet means destiny. The destiny of Eliminative
Materialism could lie in the hands of such innovations.
All of this being proved true then Eliminative
Materialism will be proven a sound solution to the mind-body problem.
So why do so many people believe that computers will never be able to think
like human beings? Why do so many people reject the idea machines
will be able to have the ability to learn, be creative, and have emotions?
It is due to their religion or belief that human brains are more than just
a huge mass of cells working together in that they can experience metaphysical
transformations(Wright). Elliminative materialism scares the crap
out of these people which happens to be the majority of the world.
Eliminative Materialism needs to be taken with an open mind. So our
brain is a natural computer but it is the best and brightest computer that
has evolved over thousands of years(Hinrichs). There should be nothing
dehumanizing about this solution to the mind-body problem. In his
book Consciousness Explained, Daniel Dennett notes,” Artificial intelligence
is progressing, creating smart machines that process data somewhat the
way human beings do. As the trend continues it will become clearer
that we’re all machines, that Ryle’s strict materialism was basically on
target, that the mind-body problem is in principle solved”(Wright).
This summary of Dennett’s book is right on the mark when computers mimic
the human mind.