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The Morality and Utility of Artificial Intelligence Essay

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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...


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...d Over Machine Book Review.” Psychology Today. July 1986. v20 p73.

Searle, John R. “Minds, Brains, and Programs.” The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence. Margaret A. Boden, ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. 67-88.

Sharkey, N. E. and R. Pfeifer. “Uncomfortable Bedfellows: Cognitive Psychology and AI.” Artificial Intelligence: Human Effects. M. Yazdani and A. Narayanan, eds. Chirchester: Ellis Horwood Limited, 1984. 163-172.

Strohmeyer, Robert. “Total Autonomy—The next generation of thinking machines.” Ziff Davis Smart Business for the New Economy. 1 August 2000. 50

Turing, Alan. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence. Margaret A. Boden, ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. 40-66.

Weizenbaum, Joseph. Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1976.


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