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Anthropology - : Introduction to Evolution of the Brain you are to apply your knowledge of brain evolution (especially the logical arguments that are used to understand it) to critically assess whether it will ever be possible to make a machine - Essay Example

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From a mere half-a-kilogram about 2.5 million years ago it currently weighs three times as much. The human brain is the largest of all primate brains. Historically, it has been the fastest growing brain in…
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Anthropology - : Introduction to Evolution of the Brain you are to apply your knowledge of brain evolution (especially the logical arguments that are used to understand it) to critically assess whether it will ever be possible to make a machine
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Extract of sample "Anthropology - : Introduction to Evolution of the Brain you are to apply your knowledge of brain evolution (especially the logical arguments that are used to understand it) to critically assess whether it will ever be possible to make a machine"

Anthropology The human brain has undergone natural evolution for millions of years. From a mere half-a-kilogram about 2.5 million years ago it currently weighs three times as much. The human brain is the largest of all primate brains. Historically, it has been the fastest growing brain in the animal kingdom. The much larger neocortex area of the human brain distinguishes humans from other animal species, imparting them with the ability to think, to decide and to judge. But, according to neuroscientists, the human brain will not grow for ever; it might become double the current size and no more. However, our intelligence will continue to grow. According to futurists, the improvement in human intelligence would ultimately require adding a computer interface to the human brain.
The human brain is a machine, albeit a complex one, so is a computer especially a supercomputer. The brain functions on three levels: biological, psychological and computational. The computer, on the other hand, functions essentially by the computational approach. The human brain, is linked to a mind and, therefore, is capable of thinking. Many researchers in artificial intelligence (AI) believe that a computer can be made to think as well, with the help of a computer program with the right inputs and outputs (Searle, 1990). However, Searle disputes this saying that computers, based on rules in the computer program, just manipulate symbols that are syntactic; therefore, “merely running the computer program is not enough to guarantee cognition.” Syntax of symbols and programs is only abstract and does not identify any physical phenomena whereas the domain of syntactic rules in the human brain is the sentence which is computed in combinations of fixed words as specified by the syntax. Also, more importantly, when uttered the meaning of the sentence is integrated with other information including semantic information from extra-linguistic domains such as co-speech gestures or the visual world. These steps are important for the listeners to interpret the language. Thus, in the case of a computer program, the computer which is the listener, is unable to interpret the language of the computer program which is only syntactic and abstract, and devoid of semantic framework. Therefore, computer programs are not the equivalent of nor do they have minds.
According to Searle, thinking is not analogous to formal symbol manipulation. Yet, he says he does not believe that thinking is a purely biological process. Notwithstanding the fact that advances in neuroscience have now more or less proved that all aspects of our mental life including perceptions, thinking, memories, actions, language etc. are neurobiological processes that depend upon brain function, Searle puts forth his argument that “we might even come to be able to create thinking systems artificially”. But he hastens to add that the computer only simulates cognition but will not produce the same outcome as that of neurobiological renditions of cognition. In other words, “brains cause minds” (Searle, 1990) which is to say that the mental phenomena produced by human brains do not merely result from the brains’ computational activity. Searle rebuts the claim of the defenders of AI who say that semantics is non-existent and there is only syntax, and the mental activity is nothing but syntactic symbol manipulation, by arguing that brain has the neurobiological capability to add meaning to symbol manipulation.
Another attribute the human brain has and which the computer lacks is creativity. Creativity makes the brain think. The human brain does more than thinking since the semantic memory has layers of discrete, hierarchically organized concepts and propositions wherein subordinate levels will automatically inherit the propositions applying to their superordinates. For example, given the fact that birds can fly, one would not need to learn specifically that owls can fly but one would need to have the fact that the ostrich, inspite of being a bird, cannot fly. Computer programs will not provide such conceptual microfeatures; hence, the possibility of making a computer/robot that has
a mind is indeed very remote.
Reference
Searle, J.R. 1990. Is the brain’s mind a computer program? Scientific American, 262: 26–
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