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Can Machines Think?

Can machines think? This is an extremely hard question to answer and in my opinion I don’t think they can. I feel machines are made to give the appearance that they can think, when this is not actually so. In a way they mimic the human thought process by the way in which they operate. Processes that are similar to the way in which we think are inputted into machines by humans allowing them to reach a suitable outcome or carry out a given procedure, however when following the stages to reach these outcomes machines are not actually thinking, the steps they must go through are automatically there for them, therefore no brain power is needed.

This differs to a human’s trail of thought, as at each stage of the thought process reached before a conclusion is made, we have think about how to reach the next stage in order to come to a conclusion, these stages are not automatically installed into a brains like they are in a computer, we have to think about how we can reach them by the use of language, perception, reason and emotion. It is humans that programme computers and machines to carry out various

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processes in order for them to function, therefore without our intervention a machine would not be able to carry out any sort of process.

Plus if a computer was able to think it would be able to perform any procedure it wants, like we as humans can do. If a human wants to ignore somebody they will because they have the choice to, however a computer does not. A machine has no other option but to comply with what you want it to do. If a machine was programmed wrongly then we would always receive incorrect information, therefore if they were able to think for themselves surely they would recognise a default in their system and correct the problem.

The Internet is available for computers to access on their systems; therefore if a computer was able to think, indisputably it would correct any errors on its system by looking throughout the wide scope of information the Internet provides. As computers cannot think they are unable to do this, therefore this is why they will constantly give wrong information and errors will occur if they are programmed incorrectly. The definition of thinking is as follows: ‘exercise the mind, form ideas; form or have as an idea or opinion or plan. ‘ From looking at this definition I believe that computers cannot think.

Since when does a machine have an opinion, if a computer was able to think surely it would want to express its opinion? A computer is only able to give you the facts that it has stored on its system or on the Internet, this does not prove that it is able to think; just because it provides us with information we do not know. A machine is merely regurgitating facts, when requested by the user, which have been previously inputted by the creator of the machine. Also a computer does not form its own ideas when it feels like it, any opinions or ideas that come from a computer have been inputted beforehand buy the computer’s programmer.

However unlike a computer humans can carry out these processes e. g. we can give our opinions on a matter and create ideas. People can express themselves freely and change the way in which they respond to certain things as we have the power of thought and freethinking. Out thoughts vary depending on our emotions, perceptions and reasoning. When studying these characteristics it is obvious that a machine does not have the power of thought, as it has no emotions, perception or reasoning, due to computers not being self aware. A computer is only a tool that has been produced by advanced individuals for people to use.

Every aspect about a computer and the processes that it carries out depend on how it has been programmed, not on how it thinks. Each day human’s carry out thought processes, which can vary even when being asked the same question and also varies from one person to another. However each computer when asked the same question or requested to carry out a certain procedure more than once will go through a definite sequence of events each time, in exactly the same order to reach the same conclusion or carry out identical courses of action.

This process will always be matching each time unless the computer gets reprogrammed to follow a diverse route or give an altered answer. Therefore unlike humans, computers do not possess the ability to carry out the thought process, which is necessary for one to be able to think. Another reason that makes it hard to believe a machine would be able to think is the fact that it is not self-aware and conscious of its surroundings, making it impossible for a machine to absorb knowledge like humans can. If a computer could think surely it would decide to find a way to take in information and increase its knowledge, like we as humans do.

However machines depend on us to input the information that they need and the processes that are essential for it to perform. The definition for a machine is as follows: ‘apparatus for applying mechanical power; thing operated by this; controlling system of an organisation. ‘ Most machines are made for controlling systems and this is because they can be programmed to automatically do so. They do not have to think about it because their course of action is already designed for them. This is why humans rely on them to carry out systematic procedures, as machines do not possess the freedom of thought.

Therefore they will carry out given processes without failure (unless programmed incorrectly), as they cannot change the way in which they operate due to them not being able to freely think. However in comparison humans do possess the freedom of thought. Therefore they are less dependable on to follow certain given procedures because each individual thinks differently, meaning each person’s performance may vary, increasing the risk of mistakes. Another point that can be raised in order to support my belief that machines can’t think is the fact that a computer cannot justify why it has carried out any given procedure.

As humans we can justify why we think certain things, however if computers are able to think why is it they cannot justify why they have carried out certain processes. They are not able to do this because these processes are automatically installed into their system like a set of rules they must follow; therefore they have not had to think about why they are carrying them out. As a result a machine is not able to justify why it has carried out certain actions like humans are able to. If machines were able to think, many problems could be caused for the human race, as we depend on this kind of technology in many ways.

For example if computers began to think for themselves they would have the power to manipulate us immediately if they wished and may decide to not comply with our needs. They would also have the potential to possess a greater range of knowledge than we do, due to them having access to every piece of data on the Internet. Therefore if they are able to think why has this not happened yet and why have we not been shown signs of this intelligence? The only part of a computer that compares to the way in which a human functions is its operating system, this area controls the whole of the computer and is know as the ‘Kernel.

‘ It acts as the computers brain, as it is constantly running and waiting for instructions. For example if humans were to touch something boiling hot our brain would tell us to pull our hand away because it hurts, in a computers case if a specific button is pressed e. g. ‘delete’ the kernel will instruct the computer to follow a set of given rules in order to delete what it is you wanted to delete. However this is not intelligence, this is only a given set of rules that the kernel has no other choice but to comply with. In conclusion I feel machines cannot think at this moment in time.

However researchers are looking at ways in which artificial intelligence can be made in the future. It is believed that the way in which this can be done would be to manufacture a machine that has the ability to interpret and make decisions, to imagine and to think. With all these factors taken into consideration and applied an intelligent machine would be produced. However until then scientists still need to find a way to get computers to carry out these processes. Therefore until then computers will only run on a given set of rules, as they are not able to think for themselves yet.

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