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Q: How smart will machines become? ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   10 Comments )
Subject: How smart will machines become?
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: deborahanne-ga
List Price: $23.00
Posted: 04 May 2002 04:14 PDT
Expires: 03 Jun 2002 04:14 PDT
Question ID: 13101
Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, and others foresee super-smart robots and computers
within a few decades.  These machines will be much smarter than
humans, and maybe more altruistic too.  Who are the major opponents of
this view of  the future of artificial intelligence?   In other words,
who argues persuasively that machines will NEVER become smarter than
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
Answered By: nishka-ga on 04 May 2002 07:13 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, and others foresee super-smart robots and
within a few decades.  These machines will be much smarter than 
humans, and maybe more altruistic too.  Who are the major opponents of
this view of  the future of artificial intelligence?   In other words,
who argues persuasively that machines will NEVER become smarter than 

Hello Deborahanne!

What a thought provoking question.  There are most definitely some
‘doomsday’ scenarios bantered about in regards to AI, such as
computers eventually replacing mankind, but there is often not much
attention brought to the opponents of these ideas.  In fact it was
quite a search to come up with the three of them!

According to a March 15, 1999 article in the Los Angeles times, there
was a symposium held on this very topic at Indiana University.  The
question:  will artificial intelligence exceed that of human
intelligence, and if so will humanity be replaced?  The symposium,
entitled "Symposium of Intelligent Machines:  The End of Humanity?"
was held in response to three books which theorized the eventual
obsolesce of human intelligence.

Probably the most noted opponent of intelligent machines is John
Searle, a philosophy professor at UC Berkeley.  While agreeing that
brains and computers can both be considered a processor, Searle
believes humans try to find meaning in what their brains are
‘processing’ while computers require instructions and order in order
to achieve their processing results.

Searle’s ideas are further explained in his Chinese Room argument.  In
a nutshell, Searle argues that a computer could be instructed  to sit
in a room, be given Chinese symbols, lookup those symbols, and shoot
back other symbols in response.  Searle agrees that such an operation
could convince a Chinese speaker that the computer can in fact be an
intelligent machine.  However is argument continues that he could sit
in the same room, conduct the same exercise, and convince the Chinese
person that he too could speak Chinese (even though both he, as a
non-Chinese speaker, and the computer really don’t know the meaning
behind the symbols they are returning).  In Searle’s words,
"simulation does not mean duplication."

You can find more about Searle here:

And the Chinese room argument here:

Another opponent is George Gilder of the Discovery Institute.   
Gilder argues in his essay ‘The Materialist Superstition” that
intelligence and the soul is not merely the result of a powerful
processor and the right hardware.  He quotes neuroscientist Wilder
Penfield as saying “I, like other scientists, have struggled to prove
that the brain accounts for the mind.”

You can read Gilder’s complete essay here:

And more information on Gilder can be found at the Discovery
Institute’s website:

One last critic I was able to uncover is Professor Roger Penrose, who
is a mathematician at Oxford.  Penrose believes our science to date is
not capable of producing an intelligent mind.

You can find an overview of his basic thesis here:

And Penrose's homepage can be found here:

As computers gain processing power, the question will ultimately arise
as to when will they exceed the ability of humans?  That question may
never be answered, but the amount of debate on the topic is certainly
going to increase as science and technology moves forward.  I hope I
was helpful in finding you some of the naysayers!


Clarification of Answer by nishka-ga on 04 May 2002 07:26 PDT
Almost forgot the citation for the LA Times article:

Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1999 p2 
Are Computers on a Pathway to Replace the Human Species? (Digital
Nation)(THE CUTTING EDGE)(Business) Gary Chapman.
deborahanne-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars
This answer was helpful--as far as it went. But the comments by
gale-ga, jesseruderman-ga, and goto-ga were just as helpful, and
pointed up aspects missed by nishka-ga.

Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: goto-ga on 04 May 2002 04:43 PDT
Try here.

or here.
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: goto-ga on 04 May 2002 04:46 PDT
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: pd-ga on 04 May 2002 05:12 PDT
One day machines may become smart enough to carry out independent
research. The SCI-FI movies of our days may become realities of the
next age. With lot of effort being expended on artificial intelligence
there can be machines/robots that are very much comparable to human
beings with an advantage of the speed of processing. We already have
smart enough programs to beat the best chess players and programs
which can automatically prove theorems. When they become smarter they
will change the whole world.
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: teapen-ga on 04 May 2002 05:39 PDT
It's not about a race between humans and their technology as to who
will become smarter or not. It should be that  they compliment each
other. We should integrate our science,technology and our humanity.
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: jesseruderman-ga on 04 May 2002 21:55 PDT
When you mentioned Ray Kurzweil, that reminded me of: - $10000
A computer - or "machine intelligence" - will pass the Turing Test by


Yes: Ray Kurzweil. "A careful analysis of the requisite trends shows
that we will understand the principles of operation of the human brain
and be in a position to recreate its powers in synthetic substrates
well within thirty years."

No: Mitchell Kapor. "While it is possible to imagine a machine
obtaining a perfect score on the SAT or winning Jeopardy--since these
rely on retained facts and the ability to recall them--it seems far
less possible that a machine can weave things together in new ways or
to have true imagination in a way that matches everything people can
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: gale-ga on 04 May 2002 22:12 PDT
Check out Douglas Hofstadter's views on AI; his presence at Indiana
University was the main reason for that conference mentioned in the
answer. There's an article about Hofstadter at the NY Times site:
"In the meantime, there is much disagreement inside and outside of the
technical community about just what computers can do. ''These are days
of hype about computers,'' Hofstadter said. ''People are being asked
to change overnight from a view of computers as basically stupid to
the idea that computers are our partners in evolution. Not enough
people are saying, wait a minute, how do we really think, what is
consciousness, where does our sense of self come from.'' "

He also organized a symposium on spiritual robots at Stanford:


See a Slashdot discussion on it:
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: voila-ga on 05 May 2002 10:59 PDT
Here is some basic nuts-and-bolts information.
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: joelpt-ga on 06 May 2002 05:20 PDT
Eventually, if technology continues at its current pace, we *will*
make machines more intelligent than ourselves.  The only thing likely
to stop this is, of course, humans who are scared of the proposition.

Consider this: a machine could conceivably be programmed to have all
the memories and workings of an existing human mind.  Who then could
not concede that the machine is just as intelligent as the human mind
it is mimicking?  Furthermore, because it's a copy of a human mind, it
would probably claim that *it* is the intelligent one, and have cause
to question your claim to authenticity as a sentient being.

Some say that machines will never become intelligent because they only
process the instructions they are given.  But if you really look at
it, humans are no different in this respect -- we are each
"programmed" with a starting set of genetic instructions, and then
everything we learn throughout our lifetime -- it is all programming. 
So, if a machine could be made to have equal (or greater) powers of
perception and thinking compared to humans, there's no reason to think
they wouldn't become just as intelligent as we are.

And as I said before, the only really viable reason this wouldn't
happen is if humans prevented it, or some other as-yet-unidentified
cause prevented it; there is no indication that the technology cannot
eventually reach the same levels of complexity as our own biology in
time.  It seems to me that most who oppose the idea of truly
intelligent machines do so because of a personal attachment to their
belief in their own free will -- they don't want to see that they,
too, are nothing but machines of a high order.

But this really isn't something to fear ... just as we work to make
our children better than those who came before them, intelligent
machines of the future will be our children of a sort.

And if they come to be far more intelligent than humans (which again
seems inevitable if we allow it), why should we even worry about our
becoming extinct as a species?  We should not worry about it any more
than we worry that parents eventually die, leaving the world to their
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: everlast1-ga on 06 May 2002 18:44 PDT
I found Terminator 2 to be a good resource to determine exactly when
Skynet becomes self-aware. God help us all in 1997!
Subject: Re: How smart will machines become?
From: hydsearcher-ga on 13 Jun 2002 01:07 PDT
In his book The Cult of Information : A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High
Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking
by Theodore Roszak. he brushed aside the claims by  scientists that
they can   create a artificial mind which matches human mind. he also
criticised false claims by technology companies and technology
evanglists like allen toffler in his book. check out. though fairly
dated but it as relevant as it was when the book first published
22years ago.

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