One of the ultimate philosophical questions: Can a machine think?
Is it possible that a machine can have conscious thoughts like you and I? If humans are a biological machine and can think then why can't a machine made out of completely different substances, like silicon chips or vacuum tubes, think the same way?
Of course, that machine hasn't been invented yet and may never get built. We cannot assume. We simply just don't know.
Instead of asking; if a machine will be able to think, we should ask: Could a machine think by using a computer program? Then we have something.
Most artificial intelligent researchers agree, that yes, a machine using the right programs, the correct sort of stimuli of inputs and outputs, that they can literally create a mind. They have devised a scientific test, The Turing Test named after Alan M. Turing the founder of artificial intelligence.
"The mind is to the brain as a computer program is to the hardware of a computer."
The test, as it currently is understood goes like this; If a machine can perform in such a way that an expert cannot tell the difference in its performance from a human and has the cognitive ability to understand symbols that make up the Chinese language say, then you can deduce that the machine has that cognitive ability just like a human.
The secret would be to devise a program that would manipulate symbols and stimulate cognition in such a way to successfully pass the Turing Test. The program then would not be a model of a mind but it would literally become a mind, in the same sense a human mind is a mind.
Since computers are symbol-manipulating devices following the rules in a program and appoints no meaning to symbols, it guarantees that the computer will never have cognition, perception, understanding and thinking, merely just by running it.
So, you'd have to agree, that at the present time and with what knowledge we have and are using today, about computers, that NO, machines cannot and will not be able to think, they can only manipulate symbols.
If not completely impossible and we are on to singularity, then we have a long way to go before a machine will ever be able to think as a human being thinks.
Then again, that question is for another blog. How do humans think?
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