- Artificial intelligence1 (AI) would be the possession of intelligence, or the exercise of thought, by machines such as computers. Philosophically, the main AI question is “Can there be such?” or, as Alan Turing put it, “Can a machine think?” What makes this a philosophical and not just a scientific and technical question is the scientific recalcitrance of the concept of intelligence or thought and its moral, religious, and legal significance. In European and other traditions, moral and legal standing depend not just on what is outwardly done but also on inward states of mind. Only rational individuals have standing as moral agents and status as moral patients subject to certain harms, such as being betrayed. Only sentient individuals are subject to certain other harms, such as pain and suffering. Since computers give every outward appearance of performing intellectual tasks, the question arises: “Are they really thinking?” And if they are really thinking, are they not, then, owed similar rights to rational human beings? Many fictional explorations of AI in literature and film explore these very questions.
- A complication arises if humans are animals and if animals are themselves machines, as scientific biology supposes. Still, “we wish to exclude from the machines” in question “men born in the usual manner” (Alan Turing), or even in unusual manners such as in vitro fertilization or ectogenesis. And if nonhuman animals think, we wish to exclude them from the machines, too. More particularly, the AI thesis should be understood to hold that thought, or intelligence, can be produced by artificial means; made, not grown. For brevity’s sake, we will take “machine” to denote just the artificial ones. Since the present interest in thinking machines has been aroused by a particular kind of machine, an electronic computer or digital computer, present controversies regarding claims of artificial intelligence2 center on these.
- Accordingly, the scientific discipline and engineering enterprise of AI has been characterized as “the attempt to discover and implement the computational means” to make machines “behave in ways that would be called intelligent if a human were so behaving” (John McCarthy), or to make them do things that “would require intelligence if done by men” (Marvin Minsky). These standard formulations duck the question of whether deeds which indicate intelligence when done by humans truly indicate it when done by machines: that’s the philosophical question. So-called weak AI grants the fact (or prospect) of intelligent-acting machines; strong AI says these actions can be real intelligence. Strong AI says some artificial computation is thought. Computationalism says that all thought is computation. Though many strong AI advocates are computationalists, these are logically independent claims: some artificial computation being thought is consistent with some thought not being computation, contra computationalism. All thought being computation is consistent with some computation (and perhaps all artificial computation) not being thought.
- Thinkers, and Thoughts
… a. What Things Think?
… b. Thought: Intelligence, Sentience, and Values
- The Turing Test
- Appearances of AI
… a. Computers
… … ai. Prehistory
… … aii. Theoretical Interlude: Turing Machines
… … aiii. From Theory to Practice
… b. “Existence Proofs” of AI
… … bi. Low-Level Appearances and Attributions
… … bii. Theorem Proving and Mathematical Discovery
… … biii. Game Playing
… … biv. Planning
… … bv. Robots
… … bvi. Knowledge Representation (KR)
… … bvii. Machine Learning (ML)
… … bviii. Neural Networks and Connectionism
… … bxi. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
… c. On the Behavioral Evidence
- Against AI: Objections and Replies
… a. Computationalism and Competing Theories of Mind
… b. Arguments from Behavioral Disabilities
… … bi. The Mathematical Objection
… … bii. The Rule-bound Inflexibility or “Brittleness” of Machine Behavior
… … biii. The Lack of Feelings Objection
… … bvi. Scalability and Disunity Worries
… c. Arguments from Subjective Disabilities
… … ci. Free Will: Lady Lovelace’s Objection?
… … cii. Intentionality: Searle’s Chinese Room Argument
… … ciii. Consciousness: Subjectivity and Qualia
- Conclusion: Not the Last Word
- References and Further Reading
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