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Computers' thinking

Can computers think?

In the latter part of the 20th century, the philosophy of mind has taken an interesting new turn with the attempt to create artificial intelligence (hereafter referred to as AI). Today's computers are able to perform many of the activities that we formerly thought only human minds could perform. These activities include playing chess, proving mathematical theorems, making complex medical diagnoses, and summarizing a newspaper article and drawing inferences from it. Advanced computer programs do more than blindly follow orders, for they can learn from experience and modify themselves in ways that their programmers could not predict.

The progress of AI raises several interesting philosophical questions. If we take the ability to perform certain activities as evidence that a person can think and has a mind, and computers can perform these activities, then should we conclude that computers can think and have a mind? If so, what insight does this provide on the mind-body problem and what does this do to our concept of the self?

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Solution Summary

Computers' thinking is assessed. Several interesting philosophical activities are determined.