The Morality and Utility of Artificial Intelligence
Douglas R. Hofstadter, in his work Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, remarks that one may contend that Artificial Intelligence is born of a machine’s ability to perform any task that had been previously confined to the domain of humans (601). However, a few sentences later, the author explains Tessler’s “Theorem” of progress in AI: “once some mental function is programmed, people soon cease to consider it as an essential ingredient of ‘real thinking.’ The ineluctable core of intelligence is always in that next thing which hasn’t yet been programmed” (601). There are various arguments as to what actually constitutes intelligence; however, it seems established that the possession of knowledge alone does not make a being or machine intelligent. While it is easy to see that AI research has progressed since the first vision of Artificial Intelligence, it remains difficult to define clearly the goal toward which they are working. Each philosopher has his or her own belief concerning what an AI program should be able to do. Without a consensus as to what constitutes intelligence, it is impossible to determine with universal agreement whether or not AI has succeeded, is achievable, or is an unreachable dream.
In considering the definitions and implications of Artificial Intelligence, many philosophers have reached extremely different conclusions. Alan Turing, author of the Turing Test, believed that an intelligent machine would be able to imitate perfectly a human. Margaret Boden, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Sussex, contends that a machine is intelligent if it possesses and displays certain human values. Moving away from the pure definition of intelligence, John R. Searle, inventor of the Chinese room, argues that the concept of Artificial Intelligence is absurd, while Professor Joseph Weizenbaum, who invented the nondirective psychotherapist program ELIZA, believes it to be immoral. Finally, Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, in their book Mind Over Machine, contend that Artificial Intelligence as a science is impossible.
Robert Strohmeyer, in his article “Total Autonomy—The Next Generation of Thinking Machines,” states that, “AI’s long-standing appeal dwells in the romance of mingling the creative problem-solving methods of human thought with the presumably flawless logic of computer circuits” (50). The question remains: how creative—or like humans—must computers be? In 1950, Alan Turing proposed in his article “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” that a computer shall be considered intelligent if it cannot be distinguished from a human (Hodges 37-38). In his paper, Turing argues, “the successful imitation of intelligence is intelligence” (38). Turing invented the Imitation Game, later to be called the Turing Test, as a measure of machine intelligence. He proposes a situation in which a human interrogator is placed in one room, while a...