Computer Intellect

Computer Intellect A new issue has come about since the building of computers. But the idea behind it is not such a new issue, for as long ago as Plato and Aristotle, the idea of a mind was pondered about. With the up-and-coming technology, the idea of artificial intelligence has exploded. It is one that many fiction writers have prospered on. But how far away are they from the truth? Take the story of The Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov, written in 1976, when most of the population didnt know what a computer was capable of. The idea of the unknown scared us, a robot that appeared to be just like us, but it was also intriguing, as demonstrated by the storys success.

What was it that attracted the population to this story? The reasonable answer lies within the question this paper will attempt to answer. That is, Can a computer have a mind? The answer to this question is an obvious one, but we will examine it anyway, as it needs to be addressed because of all of the popular science-fiction writings. A computer can have a mind, and as you read further into this, you will see that computers are made of the same things we are, they transfer information using the same techniques we do, they are complex enough, and they are aware. This is enough to give them the possibility to posses a mind. Starting with the first part of the definition of mind, one might conceive of a computer that can posses a mind.

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The Biologist might make an argument against me, stating that only living things can have mind, that it is only those things that are biological, consisting of organic compounds, that may have the potential to posses mind. But I say to the Biologist, what is it that makes up these organic compounds? What is it about these molecules that makes them construct themselves into a biological being? The answer is a simple one to any Chemist, for he knows that organic molecules are made up of elements and these elements are indeed atoms. The Physicist will most definitely agree that these atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. These protons, neutrons, and electrons are what make up every atom in the universe; the same three particles come together and form all the materials known to man. The biological systems that produce mind are made up of the same particles as the inorganic computers.

Therefore organic and inorganic are just ways of explaining the same thing. Think of a cat, either white or black. But it is still a cat, the same way that organic or inorganic explain matter. So it is not the fact that computers and humans are made of different things, but in reality, that they are made of the same things that gives the possibility of a computer to have a mind. Examine for a moment if you will, just what is it that causes an image of your first love to appear in a field of wildflowers.

We will revisit this image again, but first we will examine the aspects of the brain relating to the physical attributes that some insist make a human mind different and therefore unattainable by a computer. Anything that occurs in the brain requires a firing of synapses. This can be understood by thinking that as you read this, there are millions of neurons firing. But I ask you this, what is a neuron firing? And one will very easily respond back that it is the transferring of electrical impulses, which can also be defined as a motion of electrons from one nerve to another. Electrical impulses, such as the ones of this computer, allow the letters as I have typed them to appear on the screen and then finally be transferred to the paper you are reading.

They are of the same particles, that of the biological body as well as in the mechanical body, and they transfer information in the same manner. You see, it is beyond the level of organic chemistry, even deeper than just the elements themselves, but those things that make up the elements, they are what hold the key in comparison and answering this difficult question. These electrons, those things we have in common, could be a basis for giving a computer a mind. Returning to the topic of biology in just a moment, lets examine John Searles argument for believing that computers cannot posses a mind. He claims that the mind is an emerging property from the biological functions of the brain (which we have already proven to not be limited to biological functions), and that the complexity of the brain has lead to the production of a mind.

He uses the image of water and wetness, saying that one molecule of water doesnt feel wet but many water molecules together become more complex and have this property of wetness or the feeling of wetness (DesAutels lecture 6-14-00). From his point of view in verifying that only biological systems can be complex enough to have mind, this is true. Back to the Biologist, first we must assume that you, the reader, has some understanding of the theory of evolution. Lets assume that humans evolved from a single cell (which they do in utero if we are talking of conception in one generation) like that of a single celled bacterium. We know that bacteria do not have brains, but they do have biological functions that might lead one to believe that the bacteria has some sort of mind, but remember that Searle will say bacteria dont have minds because they lack complex brains.

So the bacteria got together literally, and stayed together after many years of evolution and a slug was formed. Now the slug, a bit more complex than just a single cell, still does not have a brain and therefore it has no mind because in Searles terms, its not complex enough to allow a mind to emerge from it. So the bacteria got together again and eventually after a few million years, a human is formed. This human has a brain, which entitles it to a mind, and accordin …


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