Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Computers Like Humans? Probably not... IMHO

A recent Horizon documentary posed the question of whether it is possible for machines to be intelligent like humans.

The presenter took us round the world visiting people who were trying to work out what artificial intelligence is and then reproducing it in a machine. We saw machines teaching each other things, beating humans on quiz shows and creating art amongst other things.

But then we were asked the question, do computers really think, or are they just simulating thinking? If that's a confusing question, here's a short video to explain the difference:

One other thing that struck me was that there appeared to be no one trying to get a computer to attempt spiritual activity of any kind - like praying. Maybe that is of no consequence, and if life is merely about maximizing the 70 odd years (if we're lucky) here, then that be true.

But if this world is a shadow of the next and we are made in the image of God, thinking his thoughts after him, then no machine will ever truly be an intelligent person.

No matter how strongly it may mimic certain of our behaviours - it will only ever be an illusion.


HazzaBui said...

On the other hand, a powerful and well programmed enough computer could create a full 100% simulation of a human brain. This would be able to act and develop as any other human, but is still simulated.

Is it possible that we just cling on to this idea that we think, computers just copy, when actually the human brain is just a different design of computer doing essentially the same thing in a different way?

Anonymous said...

As someone who has studied Product Design at degree level, I'd like to suggest that the brain is a restless instrument that can calculate and have perfect precision with other members of the body, much like a machine, but is quite fallible. My suggestion is that it's weaknesses (memory loss, distortions, depression and mania) are one reason why the brain is able to adapt and learn, and shape our experience of life.

I agree with Richard. We are much more than a series of 1s and 0s.

Richard Walker said...

If there is no such thing as truth or ultimate reality then simulation in the form of AI is fine cos the machine's "perception" of the world around it is just another perception of the world alongside ours, but if there is a reality beyond, one which can be known to humans then AI will never truly be "human" it will only be able to mimic us.

Thanks for your comments people. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'd say that it would be possible to replicate the brain within computer hardware (not with existing technology) as it is essentially a set of neurons aligned and weighted in a certain way and that is all.

A lot of scientists would say that its the level of complexity in the brain that gives humans consciousness and what we'd call the Mind or Intelligence. I'd tend to agree with that, so if that were true then it should be doable eventually.

The problem with the Chinese room experiment, is that its actually no different to how a human would understand Chinese either. Let's say I learned how to speak and understand chinese. What have I done other than to place a set of rules and characters in my head, which i can now use to form a valid chinese response when questioned?

The real difference in my mind is that, at present, computers lack the consciousness element that makes us human and allows us to use our current knowledge to gain and experience more.
I guess you'd call that learning...

IT support in Houston said...

I very much agree. There's no doubt that my computer is a heck of a lot smarter than I am, as soon as it becomes aware we're all screwed.

sager said...

Nice post with awesome points! Can’t wait for the next one.

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