In the world today machines and technology are becoming more and more advance and complex, the question is, are these machines gaining ‘knowledge’ and the ability to know. To start off with let’s consider what a machine is, a machine is a powered tool that is constructed to achieve a particular goal. Machines are usually powered by mechanical, chemical, thermal or electrical means, and are frequently motorized. Advancements in electronics technology have led to the development of powered tools without moving parts that are considered machines.
In the present day the majority of all machines are powered by self automated computers with the no need for human assistants. For example self automated robotic arms are used in car production with almost no human assistance, because there are no humans around we believe the machines possess the knowledge, with their computer chips contain the data, to take action or stop if there is something wrong in the production line. Of course the robot will have some preset functions in case of a problem however they cannot be ready for anything that goes wrong, they don’t possess the knowledge to do everything, therefore in this situation a machine cannot know.
However although a machine can’t know, we are attempting to integrate machines with our daily life’s so that the machines can ‘learn’ our habits. We use web browsers everyday to navigate the internet, and these web browsers have been developed in such a way that it will recognise what website you use most and there will be the first suggestions when entering a web address. Similarly Google have developed a programme or ‘machine’ that looks at what kind of products you view on the internet and therefore advertisement for similar products. So it could be thought that this machine that Google have developed can think for itself and develop its knowledge about individual users and therefore have the capacity know. But is this a good thing?
Do we want this self-developing machine to track our footpath on the internet until it knows everything about us? In a somewhat unorthodox situation let’s consider the film ‘iRobot’. This film could be basically showing us our future where robots are essentially our slaves and live amongst us. This film also shows how a self aware computer programme can think for itself and make its own decisions, just as the Google machine does.
Although this film also shows how a ‘law abiding’ robot will make completely different decisions to a human. In one particular scene a robot chooses to save an adult instead of a small child who was both drowning. Just about any rational human being will try and save the child but the robot did not, just as the robot in the car factory is not equipped to handle any situation possible. So this is where it leaves us; we are cable of making a machine that can know, in fact it already exists, but the real question is do we want them to know?