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Philosophy


Introduction

Computers have been created by man and the general opinion is that they can never be equal, leave alone superior to man. Computers come in various forms, for example, the ordinary desktops we use, computer games, robots and computerized weapons of mass destruction such as bombs and missiles. I hold the opinion that it is possible for computers to experience emotions such as anger. The fact that they cannot speak out to express their sentiments would not be a strong basis to negate this possibility. Computer reactions can be used as a predictor of computer “feelings”. In the course of working, we have seen computers taking too long to respond to commands such as opening a document, refusing to respond to commands, or even shutting down altogether. Computer reactions can be attributed to over working perhaps, resulting to over heating, introduction of computer viruses, or regular blackouts, causing damage to the computer. Computers therefore can respond to any kind of mistreatment from humans through various reactions that are similar to anger in humans.

Just like the way distressed workers can be oppressed and finally get together to air their grievances that if not addressed resort to go slows and eventually strikes, computers may eventually do the same. My guess is that they would call a meeting at some undisclosed venue to air their complaints and soon after craft an evil plan to destroy human kind. Movies and video games today portray computers as living creatures with feelings and ability to talk. In the movie Electric Dreams, a boy gets a crush on a girl but is too shy to express his feelings. He opts to use a computer to let the girl know how he feels, and he succeeds. Another example is shown in a TV series where a computerized automobile can drive itself (requiring no human driver). Could this be a sign that soon, computers will be able to do what humans can do?

Another good example is seen in Robocop, an old but very popular TV series. The story revolves around a robotic police officer who always succeeds in catching the “bad guys”, who always happened to be humans. The suggestion of computers subduing humans is well brought out here and maybe one day, computerized robots will be true super heroes. Away from those seen in movies and TV series, robots are a reality in Japan. They have even been categorized into humanoid entertainment robots, androids which strongly resemble humans, animal (four-legged robots), and social robots like Wakamaru among others. As the name suggests, social robots have been built to assist in therapy, a role that was previously limited to humankind.

Yes, I admit that the human imagination can run wild. But then again, nothing is conceived out of nothing. Man himself has visualized the possibility of computers taking dominion over the world; ruling out this probability, in my view, would be naïve. It is often said that a creature cannot overtake its creator in terms of intellect and otherwise. Concerning this notion, computers can in no way be equal to man in expressing feelings and ideas. The possibility of computers being able to express their displeasure could be both a good thing and a bad thing.

For one, they would make it easier for us humans to know what exactly the problem is and how to fix it. Viruses are the best illustration yet. Computer viruses are a common phenomenon in the computer world, coming in all number of modes like masquerading as files. The effects are annoying; corrupting files and applications, slowing down the computer and even preventing the computer from functioning all together are just a few of the effects. Life, no doubt, would be easier if a computer could speak its mind upon detection of a virus. The same explanation applies to overheating. This can be compared to overworked workers whose pay is not commensurate with the work done. If a computer “thinks” that it is not being allowed ample time to rest, it may as well just speak out.

Constant power blackouts with no reliable backup system are another cause of “anger” to computers. Imagine you as a human being constantly subjected to sudden unpredictable spells of life and death? A lack of stability will obviously lead to “mood swings”. One minute you are dead, the next minute you are alive with uncertainty over when you are going to be “dead” next. If computers could speak, all I can imagine them saying is, “Wake me up only if I am not going to die again!” There are numerous computer games whereby if a human has no one to play with; they can compete against the computer. Chess and scrabble are among examples of these. People are known to take unfair advantage when playing against computers and if computers could speak, they would protest against such kind of fowl play.

Do computers think?

I hold the strong view that computers indeed DO think. How else can we explain the automatic switching off in case of overheating? In addition, once they go off, they can only be switched on after a period. How can we explain the way computers restart themselves in the case of a system failure? To me, this serves as prove that computers are aware of their being, their components. Therefore, when they sense or think that something could be wrong with them, they manifest this by restarting or refusing to boot until the hitch is rectified. Alternatively, maybe they are just “tired” and need a rest.

As stated earlier, viruses are the most common menace to computers. In most cases, they come disguised as files and folders and when one attempts to open the file, the computer usually does not allow. You could term these viruses as computer “infections” recognized by the computer as unwanted. Even more amazing is when computers flash the message “a threat has been detected” across the screen to alert us on the presence of viruses. They also give warnings and urge us to install an up-to-date antivirus. Moreover, this is why computers will not open them, further backing up the notion of computers having the ability to think.

Although computers do not understand natural languages like English and the rest, they have their own language, Pascal for instance. For anyone (or anything) to understand a language, it means they have the ability to listen, assimilate information and give output. The same way humans take in information and communicate ideas is not very different from computers. You may argue that this is only a result of the command given to them by human operators. However, when we feed information to a computer, it converts it into a language it can understand, processes it and gives back output in a way we can understand. This is exactly how the thought process works.

Computers are able to train users on tasks like typing. If it commands one to type the letter “q” and he or she types “s” instead, it will repeat the command until he or she types the correct letter. The only way it recognizes right from wrong is by the thought process. Another good example is when typing in a Word document. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are highlighted in red and green respectively. Regardless of whether or not it understands our language, it knows when we go wrong.

Conclusion

Computers are the inception of man, made to help man, not overtake him. However, through movies and games, man himself has personified them, making them appear as living beings. It is quite difficult to visualize a time when they might be able to express their feelings or even think like man, their creator. However, there is no right or wrong answer pertaining to this issue. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion provided they give solid reasons for the stand they take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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