Is it possible for a machine to possess knowledge? To answer such a question two things must be known, what is the definition of a machine, can and knowledge? The scientific definition of a machine is a device that transmits or alters energy. A machine can be seen as a tool that performs commands. There are simple machines such as pulleys and levers and complex machines such as computers and robots. Can is defined as the ability to do things. Knowledge is defined as justified true belief. In this essay I will attempt to find out if a machine can truly have justified belief.
I believe that humans have always been curious about how things work, which has allowed us to make such advances to in both science and technology. With movies such as The Matrix and I-Robot people have begun to wonder if a machine can have true knowledge. It has been argued that a machine does not know anything simply because it can not break away from its commands. A machine such as a computer, which can be found in business, homes and schools, only has memory and it performs its commands in which we give it. The computer can not break away from this programming so people jump to the conclusion that a machine can not think.
They suggest that the ability to know something would involve awareness and consciousness, and if a machine possessed all these qualities then it is no longer a machine. “Awareness does not necessarily imply understanding, just an ability to be conscious of, feel or perceive. “1 Consciousness is “a sense of one’s personal or collective identity, including the attitudes, beliefs, and sensitivities held by or considered characteristic of an individual or group. “2 They believe that the machine has now evolved into a life form that possesses free will and imagination, and now does more than perform commands.
I was recently in an argument with someone who refused to believe that human’s were animals. To which I pointed out that biologists have classified us under the kingdom Anamalia. This did not help my case because the person pointed out that we did not see the world as an animal such as a dog or a lion would. This person then went on to point out that humans have a problem with adultery, murder and using physical force to achieve power. This is when I pointed out that most of those things most people have no problem doing.
Simply because we do not believe in any of those things does not mean that many people have no problem doing such things. This argument is very similar to the idea of whether a machine can know. I believe that humans are machines, we alter energy and we obey commands as well. How many times has my mother of father commanded me to go out and empty the garbage or to clean my room? Even if I complain and whine about how busy I am, I still do it anyway. My computer is very similar, recently I wanted to make a DVD for school reasons and it took me several attempts to get my computer to do what I commanded it to do.
My Window’s movie maker also kept on freezing and slowing down at the most inopportune time. A car, which is a machine because it follows the laws of physics and the motor of the car, gives out energy. A car is merely a machine that is designed to do a certain task. Newer cars, such as a Jeep Liberty can collect data from pressure and things such as weight, or even if you have your seatbelt on or not, and it will adjust to make changes such as moving your seat back automatically for you or continuously beeping until you put your seatbelt on.
The Jeep Liberty also has an “Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) senses when a rollover may occur and applies braking. ” 3 I was recently interested to read an article on BBC about how scientists have some how managed to stimulate half a mousse brain on a super computer, which makes me wonder if it is possible to stimulate thought, something that many people believe is a key to knowing. Computers these days store human knowledge, they do not criticize it, and they are just processors with memory. They can not think that is to say they can not reason or reflect on anything, so it is possible that they can never truly know.
Another article I was reading suggested that it was becoming possible for robots to know. They already have robots that mimic human emotions by copying humans. Almost like a baby would. In Japan androids, which are robots made to resemble humans in appearance and behavior, are being created. One of them can actually breathe and hold a conversation with someone. Robots are being imprinted with human behavior and a debate whether giving a robot the right to make decisions is going on in the scientific community. Artificial intelligence is being seen in toys.
I have played with the Robosapien toy and I was delighted to see that it responded to external stimuli and it could detect and move around obstacles on its own, not to mention it responded to auditory stimuli as well. Artificial intelligence that is strongly debated with philosophers, on whether a human can create a man-made machine that can be conscious. People believe that it is impossible that true consciousness can be achieved by a formal logic system. AI research is often used for cognitive science, which is modeled after human cognition.
At this particular moment in time there is no such thing as anything with a strong AI. Though at times especially when I’m playing video games it seems as if there is such a thing, especially since every level I move through is more difficult than the last. And with advances in technology scientists are sure that they could create this strong AI soon, they believe that by the approximately 2050, robots will be so far advanced that they will need to have rights. Robots are already being deployed all over the world and already in positions of power.
On the Korean border a robotic defense with the power to kill is put in between South and North Korea. Of course since at this moment in time since a robot can not know the person who created the robot is held liable if the robot killed the wrong person. Another question could be asked to determine whether a machine can know, if a scientist or a research were to create a functioning artificial brain, with all the neurons and synapses, would it still be considered a brain. Well yes since it can do all the same things a human brain can do which means it will be able to copy and learn from humans the same way a human baby does.
Babies are a blank slate, tabula rasa, which means except for some innate abilities that they have they know nothing. And as soon as they are born they immediately start to gain knowledge through empirical and rational thinking. It seems then that, a machine which we have today can not actually know anything, however it has been seen that with twenty first century technology then a machine has begun have certain characteristics of knowing, but since it can not think it clearly has no way of knowing.
Machine’s are just pre-programmed units (as of right now) that react in a particular way, due to circumstance or a command. However that is not to say that a machine can never know, with constant breakthroughs in technology it is quite possible that a machine such as a robot or a computer will be able to think, and therefore it will be able to know.
Works Cited Awareness. Wikipedia. 14 Apr. 2007. 27 Apr. 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awareness