Jonathon McNeilIntroduction to Philosophy
In Alan Turings essay Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing seeks to explain that computers can think. To answer this question Turing comes up with the idea of the Imitation Game. Turing uses an example of an Imitation Game, where a computer is trying to convince a person that the computer is also a person. The Imitation Game is a series of questions and answers. As Alan Turing explains, The question and answer method seems to be suitable for introducing almost any one of the fields of human endeavor that we wish to include. We do not wish to penalize the machine for its inability to shine in beauty competitions, nor to penalize a man for losing in a race against an airplane. (286) The next idea of Turing is The Turings Thesis. The Turings Thesis states that if the computer can pass the Turing Test, then that is sufficient for thought. The basic idea of the Imitation Game involves a man, a woman, and an interrogator. Theoretically if the machine can take the place of the man and convince the interrogator that the machine is a woman this would prove that the machine is thinking. As Turing explains, I propose to consider the question Can machines think? This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms machine and think. The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous. If the meaning of the words machine and think are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, Can machines think? is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll. But this is absurd. Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another, which is closely related to it the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words. (285)
Turing comes up with a test to decide if a computer can really think. The test is called the Turing Test. The Turing Test is a test of whether a digital computer can convince a person that the computer is actually a human. Turing goes on to explain what he means by a digital computer because at the time in his life digital computers were in infancy. A digital computer consists of three elements: The Store, The Executive Unit, and The Control. According to Turing, The idea behind digital computers may be explained by saying that these machines are intended to carry out any operations which could be done by a human computer. The human computer is supposed to be following fixed rules; he has no authority to deviate from them in any detail. We may suppose that these rules are supplied in a book, which is altered whenever he is put on to a new job. He has also an unlimited supply of paper on which he does his calculations. He may also do his multiplications and additions on a desk machine, but this is not important. The store is the part of the computer that stores the information, in a way the store is the unlimited amount of paper. The executive unit is the part of a computer that runs the program. The control is the part of the computer that makes sure the program is running accurately. Turing believed that by the year 2,000, a computer would be able to pass the Turing Test approximately 30% of the time. We know today that this still has yet to be possible. Turing explained that the computers would need to store of 10^9, and explained that Encyclopedia Britannica contained approximately 2×10^9 amount of information.As Turing states, Nevertheless I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted. I believe further that no useful purpose is served by concealing the beliefs. The popular view that scientists proceed inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any unproved conjecture, is quite mistaken. Provided it is made clear which are proved facts and which are conjectures, no harm can result. Conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research. (290)
In Turings Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing offers a number of objections to The Turing Thesis. In my opinion one of the strongest objections is The Lady Lovelace Objection.The Lady Lovelace Objection basically says that computers lack originality and that the computer is depended on the program it is running. According The Lovelace Objection, The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform (her italics). This statement is quoted by Hartree who adds: This does not imply that it may not be possible to construct electronic equipment which will think for itself, or in which, in biological terms, one could set up a conditioned reflex, which would serve as a basis for learning. Whether this is possible in principle or not is a stimulating and exciting question, suggested by some of these recent developments. But it did not seem that the machines constructed or projected at the time had this property, (293-4) I personally believe this is one of the strongest objections against Turing idea that a computer can think if it can pass The Turing Test. Because a computer lacks its own originality and cannot operate independent from the program itself, I believe that computers are unable to think. Another objection that Turing offers is The Argument from Consciousness. This argument basically suggests that computers lack general emotions and that some human activities require having emotions. One example of this is that a computer is unable to compose music or write a poem. According to The Argument from Consciousness, Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. In my opinion this is a weak argument. Because this argument focuses more on if a computer has emotions and not Turings idea of Can a machine think?
In John R. Searles essay, Minds, Brains, and Programs, Searle seeks to explore different types of artificial intelligence. According to Searle, there are two types of intelligence, strong artificial intelligence and weak artificial intelligence. Strong artificial intelligence is that computers can literally think if the computer is running the right program. Weak artificial intelligence is that computers are limited and can help us understand the mind. According to weak AI, the principal value of the computer in the study of the mind is that it gives us a very powerful tool. For example, it enables us to formulate and test hypotheses in a more rigorous and precise fashion. But according to strong AI, the computer is not merely a tool in the study of the mind; rather, the appropriately programmed computer really is a mind, in the sense that computers given the right programs can literally said to understand and have other cognitive states. (298) Searle does not believe in strong artificial intelligence. Searle also believe that the Turnings Thesis is false. Searle believes that no artificial intelligence can ever think solely in virtue of running a program.
John Searle then goes on to give the Chinese Room thought experiment. The Chinese Room is supposed to model how a computer processes symbols. In the Chinese Room, there is a non-native Chinese speaker and everything in the room is in Chinese. The non-native Chinese speaker has to piece everything together by using a rule book. This conflicts with Turings thesis because the non-native speaker does not understand the semantically and properties of the Chinese language. If the non-native speaker memorized the rulebook he or she still would not understand the syntactical properties of Chinese. Searle replies by saying that he or she would internalized everything, the rules and Chinese symbols but still would not understand Chinese.Searle believes thinking is distinct from understanding. Searle states: Notice that the force of the argument is not simply that different machines can have the same input and output while operating on different formal principles- that is not the point at all. Rather, whatever purely formal principles you put into the computer, they will not be sufficient for understanding, since a human will be able to follow the formal principles without understanding, since a human will be able to follow the formal principles without understanding anything. No reason whatever has been offered to suppose that such principles are necessary or even contributory, since no reason has been given to suppose that when I understand English I am operating with any formal program at all. (300) Searle is trying to explain that a computer can run the particular program but will never have a true understanding of the language itself. Searle is displaying that just because the computer is running the program, this does not justify understanding.
Searle understands that some people might have objections to his ideas. Therefore, Searle then goes on to give a number of objections to The Chinese Room experiment. Searle believes that by going through a series of responses, he can give the reader a better understanding of his argument. One very good objection that Searle discusses is The Robot Reply objection. Searle says to put a program into a robot that is out in an environment and then the program would have meaningful thoughts. Searle concedes that strong artificial intelligence is false. The robot would not have meaningful thoughts because all the robot can do is symbol manipulation.Searle is saying that the person in the Chinese room does not have clear understanding of Chinese because that person is not connected to the outside world or live in an environment where Chinese is spoken. If the person was able to live in an area where Chinese was spoken the individual would be able to acquire understanding of the language. Searle then goes on to reply to this objection by saying this would not change anything. If the computer system was connected to the environment, it might change the type of inputs the system receives. The computer would still only be able to process the symbols as the program reads and never truly had the proper semantically understanding of the language.
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