The question of whether artificial computing machines could think as humans do was relevant for several decades, starting from the dawn of technological progress. People predominantly use artificial intelligence for practical purposes, such as calculations or preliminary detection of errors in all sorts of different simulations. Thus, there is no clear answer for the limitations of the potential for artificial intelligence. Moreover, with the dynamic development of technologies, even if a clear answer was given today, it might become incorrect in the nearest future. This essay will discuss the topic of artificial intelligence in whether artificial intelligence can be capable of thinking processes.
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First, a sufficient argument on why artificial intelligence will never be able to think as humans do was stated by Searle. Searle’s point results from a systematic approach to artificial intelligence and its understanding of language (26). Searle compared artificial intelligence’s ability to function in another language with a basket of symbols and a book of rules on how to place these symbols in a sentence to sound like a native speaker (26). The main point of this analogy is to illustrate how people’s understanding of language is semantic as it implies a mental content, and the foundational principles for computer programs use a formal syntactic language (Searle 27). Therefore, Searle meant that even though computers are seemingly capable of constructing sentences, which is enough to pass the Turing test, in their functioning, computers do not include the mental context and message.
Searle’s point presents a significant insight into the mechanics of artificial intelligence, but there are some details that one should consider before agreeing with his arguments. First, Searle is a philosopher, meaning that his understanding of the topic is limited to observations of processes and knowledge of basic principles of artificial intelligence’s functioning. Next, the essay mentioned earlier that the area of artificial intelligence research is rapidly developing, so Searle’s argument proposed during the period of the end of the last century is invalid in modern conditions. Modern developments in machine learning stepped far beyond the original use of formal instructions; therefore, new algorithms allow artificial intelligence to understand the semantic context of language in a similar way to humans.
While Searle’s take on the topic could be acknowledged as outdated, Turing’s earlier conceptual point might be a powerful argument favoring artificial intelligence’s capacity to engage in the thinking process. Turing suggested that through the imitative process, digital computers could mimic human computers (438). He even evaluated the concept of free will for artificial intelligence in connecting it with a random element. In his article on computing machinery and intelligence, Turing addressed several opposing opinions, one of which questioned the consciousness of computing machines and declared that mechanisms could not compose or write material (445). However, modern technologies based on machine learning and analysis allow the creation of similar musical and painting compositions following the initial author’s pattern. Therefore, Turing was right about the importance of imitation for artificial intelligence development.
In my view, the topic of artificial intelligence becoming capable of thinking is a question of time. In addition, there is no sufficient practical purpose for artificial intelligence to be able to think on the same level as humans do. I find that Searle’s argument was overly simplistic for such a complicated topic, while Turing’s argument was correct but implemented a conceptual approach due to the limitations of technology at that period. I assume that modern technology can provide artificial intelligence capable of the thinking process, but it requires more time and research, as thinking artificial intelligence does not have a functional application purpose yet.
Searle, John R. “Is the Brain’s Mind a Computer Program?” Scientific American, vol. 262, no. 1, 1990, pp. 25-31.
Turing, Alan M. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Mind, vol. 59, no. 236, 1950, pp. 433-460.
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