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The Debate Over Artificial Intelligence

The Debate Over Artificial Intelligence

Can machines think? Or rather, can we develop true artificial intelligence in the sense of machines that think and understand as we humans do? This is an interesting problem that is becoming more and more relevant in our lives as computers become more complex and integral to our lives. Two articles, John Searle’s “Minds, Brains, and Programs” and William Lycan’s “Robots and Minds”, present two different answers to this question and also raise several new questions. John Searle takes the position that on one level computers do think – they manipulate symbols – yet on another level they do not think – computers do not understand the symbols they are manipulating to mean anything in the sense that we humans do. Lycan takes the position that yes, computers do think, and that it is quite possibly only a matter of time before a machine can be created that not only looks and behaves like a person, but also thinks like a person. Therefore, Lycan claims, the suitably programmed machine of this complexity is a person as much as you and I are. I fall more on Lycan’s side of the argument.

Words such as “intelligence” and “understanding” have variations in their definitions depending on whom you ask. It is often hard to come up with even a simple definition once one delves into the problems at hand. But, since we as humans (in particular Searle) often try to separate ourselves from computers by saying that we understand the meaning of the symbols we manipulate, it is necessary that I give a useful and accurate meaning to the words (or symbols) I will be using.

I define “thinking” as processing information, with any level of complexity. I include in the thinking category a thermostat makin…

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…a human who’s body is almost entirely mechanical) are people? If we cannot distinguish their minds from regular humans’, then we have no basis for denying that they have the same basic rights. As for the second question, that is much tougher, and he makes the analogy to animal rights, for even now computers exhibit intelligence that is roughly equal to many animals. However, since I have proved my main point, and run over my page limit, I will now bow out. The area of animal rights is still hotly debated, and we still often disagree on many aspects of human rights. These areas are the subject of many papers, articles, news stories, even organizations. Maybe, if only to prevent a repeat of our confusion morally over our sudden ability to clone complex biological organisms, we should start looking now at the issue of “computer rights”. It still sounds strange to me.

Invisible Man Essay: Searching for Black Identity in a White World

Invisible Man: Searching for Black Identity in a White World

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was published at a time when America was racially divided. The novel presents the theme of the lack of black identity – a theme supported by the fact that the protagonist, Invisible Man, has no name. The reader knows the names of Dr. Bledsoe, Ras-the-Exhorter, Brother Jack and others – but the reader does not know the name of the main character. Ellison’s leaves it to the reader to decide who he is and, on a larger scale, how white America perceives black America.

Ellison’s use of color is interesting. He uses color to contrast the differences between black and white America. Ellison describes the Tuskegee campus as a “world of whiteness”, Dr Bledsoe’s wife as having a “creamy-complexion”, and the main character’s lover’s arm as “one ivory arm flung above her jet-black hair”. This contrast is used throughout the book and reminds the reader that race is an important issue in America.

In Chapter 2 the main character is a junior in college and feels good about his life. Dr Bledsoe, the dean of Tuskegee Institute, assigns him to drive for an old white trustee named Mr. Norton and to make sure he gets to his meetings on time. On one particular day Mr. Norton asks the boy to show him around. Mr. Norton knows little of the surrounding area. This foreshadows trouble for the young man. What the boy failed to understand is that Dr. Bledsoe doesn’t want Mr. Norton or any other white trustee to see the community surrounding the campus. Unaware of this the boy takes the first road he encounters and immediately they see a poor black farmer named Trueblood. At a time when most blacks are living in poverty, Tru…

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… the status quo, challenging the reader to see beyond skin color. Only through realizing the truth about race, gender, and class warfare can we, as a nation, free ourselves from the shackles of prejudice.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bishop, Jack. Ralph Ellison. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Bellow, Saul. “Man Underground” Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Commentary. June 1952. 1st December 2001

Available: /50s/bellow-on-ellison.html

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Vintage International. New York: Random House, Inc., 1947.

Fabre, Michel. “In Ralph Ellison’s Precious Words.” Unpublished Manuscript. 1996. 30 November. < Ellison/early.html

O’Meally, Robert, ed. New Essays on Invisible Man. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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