Reasons Why Computers Will Never Achieve Self Awareness?

Words: 1663
Topic: Tech & Engineering


Computers have dominated the human world today, with almost every task requiring a computer, in order to be accomplished. The Computers devices have developed through different generations, with each developing the product development process. Each generation is used to advance the generation before it. The command, speed and CPU memory, have proportionally enlarged and improved because of miniaturization. Each computer invention is characterized by vital technical progress that has altered the way computers basically function. This has brought about cheaper, smaller, efficient, more powerful and reliable devices. In the first generation, computers used vacuum tubes and magnetic drums for memory.

The generation that followed was marked by replacement of tubes by transistors then integrated circuits (IC’s). The fourth cohort was ushered in by the improvement of microchip, thousands incorporated circuits which were transformed into a single chip. This is the present generation. There is a fifth generation, though, which covers the present and the future, and it is the generation of the artificial intelligence. This is still in development, although some aspects are in operation like voice recognition. This artificial intelligent is targeted to make computers behave like human beings and develop self awareness. This has led to the argument on whether computers will or will never develop self awareness. The computer scientists’ argument that computers will develop self awareness is not true.

Self awareness

Although computers are improving at a soaring rate, having larger memories and operating at even faster rates, they are just machines performing tasks that they have been designed to do. Computers do not, in the actual sense, create or develop new ideas of their own or even think on their own (Dreyfus 190). Self awareness is to have intelligence, and with intelligence comes creativity, understanding and simulation vs. emulation. The fact that computers cannot have creativity, empathy, understanding and cannot work, act and behave like humans means that, computers cannot and will never achieve and develop self awareness like human beings (Fetzer 13). Computers blindly follow all the commands given by human beings regardless of how stupid the instructions or commands are. The day computers will learn to work on their own without following any instructions or, commands given is unlikely to come; therefore, computers will never achieve self awareness. Lack of intelligence makes computers not to develop self awareness.

It has been argued by computer scientists that the field of computer science, known as artificial intelligence will surely take computers to the level of self awareness (Charniak 7). The fifth generation of computers aims at developing computers to a level such that they will outwit, outsmart and even outlast their inventors who are human beings. Game playing is already being seen as a breakthrough to computers developing self awareness for computers. In 1997, an IBM computer gave the artificial intelligence a break through, when it successfully beat a chess world champion at his game. In 2011, Watson was introduced by IBM in the United States to jeopardy viewers. It was used to test how artificial intelligence can use logic in finding answers to questions and interpret human language, and managed to beat all human opponents (Dreyfus 237). This break through in the computer world has led to the concept that computers will eventually develop self- awareness.

Computers can perform some tasks better than human beings like playing chess, not because they are intelligent or are aware of what is required to be done, but, because they are programmed. Computers are programmed to use and exhaust all the possible means in order to reach a solution. The aptitude of computers to comprehend innate language consist only translations of sound effect to particular lettering that form specific words (Fetzer 5-9). These words are programmed to certain computer functions, hence, simulating perception. This is not because computers are aware of what they are expected to do, but are just following mapped out instructions and commands. It is true that computers are improving, becoming more complex with the ability to handle an array of tasks, but they have been designed to perform these tasks. Therefore, as long as computers will operate as a result of obeying commands, they will never develop self awareness despite the fact that, they can perform better than humans.

The above points of view bring about the argument whether, computers will or will not develop self awareness. Human beings are always aware, and, know that they exist. They are aware of their environment and their surroundings, which computers do not. Computers evidently do not discern anything like knowing whether they exist, hence, they cannot grow self awareness. Human beings had a hard task developing a machine that would be able to know that it exists. This was mainly by a deep understanding of how others exist. Schank argues that computers only follow the programmed instructions, and this fact is indelible. Any self understanding that computers will build up, will not be as a product of electronic progress, but as a consequence of advancement of human ideas concerning the character of self awareness and intellect (7).

Reasons why computers will never achieve self awareness

It is true that computers have actually advanced to the artificial intelligence stage, and they perform quite an astounding task. Nevertheless, they still follow any instructions given blindly, despite how wrong or stupid the command is. For instance, a person can spend the whole day compiling a project, and then press the quit button before saving the work. A computer will obediently delete all the work that has been done without considering the effort being put to waste. If a computer is designed to have self awareness, it would know that too much effort and time have been invested in that work, hence, save it. With the present break through in the computer science, it is extremely inviting to believe that, at the trend technology is advancing; computers will eventually develop self awareness. Well, this can only be achieved if humans come up with computers which have intelligence and the ability to solve problems using reason and not commands (Schank 44-46). Natural intelligence is unlikely to be impacted in to computers; hence they are not likely to develop self awareness.

Developing self awareness is done by understanding own existence, and use of reason to solve problems. Computers appear to contain understanding and make use of reason, but it is only a pretense at the rear of the clever code that machines trail correctly. The intelligence is just artificial, which cannot develop, to a level of self awareness (Dreyfus 21). For a workstation to be perfectly intellectual, equivalent to humans, it ought to be lucid and wholly awake, yet, completely beyond the margins of the dualistic awareness. Computers are free of any conceptuality. They do not include any opinion, sense of uniqueness, cognitive formations, no awareness or self reflection. The sophisticated, hypothetical, artificial intelligence computers will not have the ability of experiencing authentic experiences like in religion. This is because they will not be able to simulate or even emulate them. Computers are crippled without information, making them information processors. They do not have information content. This happens to be a clear justification that computers are gadgets that process information and thus not aware of themselves.

Being self aware require thinking. Thinking involves making decisions, making choices, looking at consequences, differentiating the truth from what is false, taking action and solving problems. Computers may appear to resolve problems; however, they do not formulate decisions or even plan in advance. The IBM’s Deep Blue, which beat, the world Chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1997 had not planned ahead but, was just following a set of instructions devised by expert chess players. A human actor makes hurdles of judgment instead of slavishly going through all calculations. A computer, on the other hand, goes through all the possible moves until it gets the possible option for winning the game (Fetzer 3). Common sense in human beings helps in thinking about things, while computers do not possess this attribute. Therefore, it is quite hard for computers to develop self awareness if at all they do not have the sense of thinking and common sense.

Robotics is expected to be most trendy area of artificial intelligence. The computer science field aims at creating robots which will be aware of their surroundings and lead semi-autonomous lives. The robots are expected to experience external stimuli and react to it just like humans. This is unlikely to be achieved because for robots to respond to external stimuli, they are expected to have emotions. Machines can perform some tasks being done by human beings, but they cannot do the same way as human beings (Fetzer 18). Even with the advanced technology, it is hard for machines to be given emotions, which are innate, like human beings for them to be self aware. Therefore, computers will never achieve self awareness.


The brain and the body of a human being are organic systems which are not involved in creation of consciousness. True consciousness is not found in any formal information process because it is fundamental to the cosmos. Awareness is not created by humans; it is always present. Humans can just be transformed, shifted then channeled from position to position. Human beings are truly self aware without using or creating any information. Computers, on the other hand, are not possible to do, sense or know anything without the use of information. It is apparent that computers will never be able to develop self awareness because they obviously need information for them to operate. Computers will on no account have the ability to duplicate or create self awareness with any information route. Full intelligence will never be achieved in computers due to lack of self awareness, and, self awareness is also impossible as long as computers can only operate with the use of information and programming. Again, computers will never match the intelligent of humans which is inborn, and the self awareness which is innate.

Works Cited

Charniak, Eugene, et al. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1985. Print.

Dreyfus, Hubert. What Computers Still Cannot Do. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1992. Print.

Fetzer, James. Artificial Intelligence: Its Scope and Limits. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990. Print.

Schank, Roger. The Cognitive Computer. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1984. Print.