Artificial Intelligence and the Human Brain Essay

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Artificial intelligence has been at the center of many science fiction stories in the last fifty years. Some have become obsessed with proving or disproving the idea that computers can possess real minds, real consciousness. The latest take on this has been HBO's Westworld, a show about androids achieving consciousness. However, realistically many say this is an impossibility. While true artificial intelligence seems, unrealistic many have tried to actualize such a dream through AI projects and development of new, robotic technologies. However, will the goal of real consciousness derived from artificial intelligence be achieved in the future? Will humanity ever possess the technology and understanding to cultivate life from machine?

In "The Library of Toshiba" the chapter opens up with a quote from John Maynard Smith. He shares the notion that humans are just programmed robots designed to keep their genes going through copulation and breeding. Humans are after all, part of creation and as such may be programmed by nature to perform certain tasks and functions like an artificial program. This appears as a jarring concept because it implies that if humans are like programs and can be programmed, what makes it any different from artificial intelligence? What makes humans different from robots?

Dennett continues by stating programs are "not random strings of bits, but highly designed sequences of bits, the products of thousands of hours of R. and D." (Dennet 437) This is important to understand because what appears like random chance or an act of randomness to a human being, may indeed be a potentially pre-programmed occurrence that was designed somehow, a long time ago. Dennet continues discussing his Toshiba and eventually goes back to Godel's Theorem and tries to compare once again humans with artificial intelligence, making it seem possible that humans and robots are the same and thus AI could develop into real consciousness.

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"That is exactly what people in AI believe: that there are risky, heuristic algorithms for human intelligence in general, just as there are for playing good checkers and good chest and a thousand other tasks." (Dennet 438)

Looking at AI through functionalism, early pioneers of AI thought of the human brain as the hardware and the human mind as the software. Eventually they began using examples such as running Microsoft Word program on numerous computers and comparing that to running the 'mind program' on any sort of hardware. They convinced themselves that the human brain is a computer and because the mind is its program, this program can then be not only replicated, but also transferred into other machines like robots. This sounds reasonable and potentially insightful. However, the brain is not a computer.

The human brain cannot be regarded as a non-deterministic analog system. There is no finite number of possibilities or possible states. At least on a certain level, the human mind can store and process information in a multitude of ways that even research and analysis has yet to fully understand and map. Add to that the tens of thousands of years of evolution that enabled humans to reach the level of intelligence they have today, it seems as though computers are just not the same as human brains, but rather one, small characteristic.

Many who creating counterarguments against computers eventually having real consciousness use the Chinese room argument to effectively refute such notion. A John Searle thought experiment in 1980 and its 1984 derivation, it is the most well-known credited counters to potential claims for AI. The main claims of the Chinese room arguments are 'syntax does not suffice for semantics' and 'brains cause minds'. Searle uses strong AI and weak AI to describe how computers can simulate thought much like a….....

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Works Cited

Dennett, D C. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

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