Do Computers Think?
Can or will computers ever think? Well
this has been a subject of much debate between even the greatest minds,
and yet there is still no answer. First of all I have would like you to
answer a question. What is 4×13? Did you have to think to answer that?
Yes? Well does that mean that a computer can think because it can answer
that question. Well that is what we are going to set to answer and I think
yes, depending on your definition of thinking.
First off let’s get something straight.
When I refer to computers in this essay I am not referring only to the
microprocessor sitting on your desk but to microprocessors that control
robots of various structure.
Well as I said we first must define ?to
think’. What does that mean? Webster’s New Compact Dictionary defines ?think’
as “1. Have a mind. 2. Believe. 3. Employ the mind.”. It defines mind as
?to think’. So does this mean that if you can think does this mean you
have a mind? My opinion is that, according to this definition, computers
can think. A computer can give you an answer to the question ?What is 4×13?’,
so it can think. What’s that? You say it’s just programmed to do that,
if no one programmed it wouldn’t be able to do that. Well how did you know
how to answer the question? Your teacher or parent’s or someone taught
it to you. So you were programmed, same as the computer was.
So you think that programing is different
than learning. You might think the same as my grandma that programing is
something where things are just drilled into you like people who are members
of cults. Well when your teacher stood over you desk in elementary and
do drilled you on the multiplication tables was that not programming? Would
you know that 1×5 does not equal 10 if everyone you ever met said that
it did. Another argument my grandma used was my little cousin and how when
he runs into a wall he learns that it hurts so he doesn’t do it again.
(Well actually he does it because he has a hard head). Yet a professor
in Calgary builds robots that do not even contain a microprocessor yet
it can learn. He builds them out of spare part from broken electronics
such as walkman’s. They have multiple legs and when one leg get’s stuck,
say on a piece of tape, the strain on the motor causes the motor to change
the twisting motion of the leg and this feedback system continues until
it gets free, but the second time it takes less time to get free because
some how it knows, what to do to get free. So it has learned and therefore
must be able to think according to that definition of think.
My mother says that what makes it that
computers can’t think is they can not handle situations they have not been
programmed to handle. Well there are now robots that can navigate through
a room where they have not been programmed to handle but they can navigate
through it without bumping into anything. They can’t do it with the efficiency
of a human but they can do it. So once again they can think according to
a definition of ?to think’.
My dad felt that a computer would not be
able to think because if you put it in a room and never used it, it wouldn’t
be able to think. Well would you be able to think if you could not hear,
touch, see, smell, or taste anything and as such could receive no information.
What would you have to think about.
Another couple of definition brought up
in a conversation was that in order to survive something must be able to
think and that the ability to come up with original ideas was proof that
something can think. The Calgary professor mentioned earlier also took
these robots (without microprocessors) and gave them solar panels so they
could get their own energy. He also gave some a device that allowed it
to disable other robots. These robots would wander around a room and they
would fight over the sunniest spots in the room because it was the spot
they stood the best chance of survival. If these robots disabled another
one they used it’s ?remains’ along with others to form a barrier around
this sunny spot so it would be protected. Well if this behaviour is not
proof of the fact that computers can survive and come up with original
idea’s I don’t know what is.
So as you can see by all the definitions
I have been able to come up with a computer can think. The most strong
objection I found was that we are living and that is what makes us think
is just an objection to the fact that something may possibly some day become
smarter than us.