Andrew And The Mind Essay

1279 words - 5 pages

Andrew and the Mind "Bicentennial Man" was written by Isaac Asimov to celebrate America's bicentennial in 1976. Originally planned as the first in a three part series, the story ended up as a standalone piece. We are all better off, as it stands "Bicentennial Man" is perhaps the greatest science fiction piece written. However, the question before us is not whether or not this is a great story, that much is obvious, the question is "does Andrew have a mind?" I would argue that Andrew certainly has a mind. He could certainly pass the Turing test as well as overcome the Chinese room problem. He fulfills Searle's criteria that only certain types of machines can think, mainly ones with internal causal powers. Andrew also displays several characteristics that are only ascribed to human minds. With all this evidence, it is evident that Andrew did, in fact, have a mind.Andrew most definitely has a mind. Firstly, Andrew could pass the Turing test. The Turing test, devised by A. M. Turing, is the definitive test for determining whether or not a machine has mind. The test, called by Turing the "Imitation Game," consists of 3 players. One player is an interrogator and the other two, being of opposite sex, are placed in a separate room. The object of the game is for the interrogator to determine which player is the female and which is the male. Extrapolating the game out to include a human and a computer, the object then becomes which player is human and which is a computer. The key for the computer is to be able to imitate human behavior. Now, if Andrew was placed in the room, could he successfully imitate human behavior? Yes, he could, and did. While Asimov's characters are not real people, they certainly follow the rules of rational human behavior. The World President announces to the assembly, "Today we declare you the Bicentennial Man, Mr. Martin." The operative word in that sentence is "Man." No man can exist without the benefit of a mind. Therefore, the reasonable people that exist in Asimov's story were convinced that Andrew was, in fact, a man and therefore passed the Turing test. Andrew would also overcome the Chinese room problem. Searle notes that "whatever purely formal principles you put into the computer, they will not be sufficient for understanding, since a human will be able to follow the formal principles without understanding anything." Searle is stating that computers are nothing more than advanced machines at the whim of their programming and are not capable of understanding what they simply execute without question. However, humans have the mind to be able to understand the formal instructions given and follow them. It matters not that neither the human nor the machine understand Chinese, what matters is that the human has the mind to understand the formal instructions given to him. On that note, Andrew is much more than a simple input output machine. Andrew overcomes his original input program, the second rule, when he says, "I order...

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