Mind And Machine

Mind and Machine: The Essay

Technology has traditionally evolved as the result of human needs. Invention, when prized and rewarded, will invariably rise-up to meet the free market demands of society. It is in this realm that Artificial Intelligence research and the resultant expert systems have been forged.
Much of the material that relates to the field of Artificial Intelligence deals with human psychology and the nature of consciousness. Exhaustive debate on consciousness and the possibilities of consciousnessness in machines has adequately, in my opinion, revealed that it is most unlikely that we will ever converse or interract with a machine of artificial consciousness.
In John Searle\'s collection of lectures, Minds, Brains and Science, arguments centering around the mind-body problem alone is
sufficient to convince a reasonable person that there is no way science will ever unravel the mysteries of consciousness.
Key to Searle\'s analysis of consciousness in the context of Artificial Intelligence machines are refutations of strong and weak AI theses. Strong AI Theorists (SATs) believe that in the future, mankind will forge machines that will think as well as, if not better than humans. To them, pesent technology constrains this achievement. The Weak AI Theorists (WATs), almost converse to the SATs, believe that if a machine performs functions that resemble a human\'s, then there must be a correlation between it and consciousness. To them, there is no technological impediment to thinking machines, because our most advanced machines already think.
It is important to review Searle\'s refutations of these respective theorists\' proposition to establish a foundation (for the purpose of this essay) for discussing the applications of Artificial Intelligence, both now and in the future.

Strong AI Thesis
Strong AI Thesis, according to Searle, can be described in four basic propositions. Proposition one categorizes human thought as the result of computational processes. Given enough computational power, memory, inputs, etc., machines will be able to think, if you believe this proposition. Proposition two, in essence, relegates the human mind to the software bin. Proponents of this proposition believe that humans just happen to have biological computers that run "wetware" as opposed to software. Proposition three, the Turing proposition, holds that if a conscious being can be convinced that, through context-input manipulation, a machine is intelligent, then it is. Proposition four is where the ends will meet the means. It purports that when we are able to finally understand the brain, we will be able to duplicate its functions. Thus, if we replicate the computational power of the mind, we will then understand it.
Through argument and experimentation, Searle is able to refute or severely diminish these propositions. Searle argues that machines may well be able to "understand" syntax, but not the semantics, or meaning communicated thereby.
Esentially, he makes his point by citing the famous "Chinese Room Thought Experiment." It is here he demonstrates that a "computer" (a non-chinese speaker, a book of rules and the chinese symbols) can fool a native speaker, but have no idea what he is saying. By proving that entities don\'t have to understand what they are processing to appear as understanding refutes proposition one.
Proposition two is refuted by the simple fact that there are no artificial minds or mind-like devices. Proposition two is thus a matter of science fiction rather than a plausible theory
A good chess program, like my (as yet undefeated) Chessmaster 4000 Trubo refutes proposition three by passing a Turing test. It appears to be intelligent, but I know it beats me through number crunching and symbol manipulation.
The Chessmaster 4000 example is also an adequate refutation of Professor Simon\'s fourth proposition: "you can understand a process if you can reproduce it." Because the Software Toolworks company created a program for my computer that simulates the behavior of a grandmaster in the game, doesn\'t mean that the computer is indeed intelligent.

Weak AI Thesis

There are five basic propositions that fall in the Weak AI Thesis (WAT) camp. The first of these states that the brain, due to its complexity of operation, must function something like a computer, the most sophisticated of human invention. The second WAT proposition states that if a machine\'s output, if it were compared to that of a human counterpart appeared to be the result of intelligence,