(Lansing State Journal, June 23, 1993)
Question submitted by Greg Bilkins.
The question of whether or not a computer can think is still up for grabs. In the past some scientists believed that a computer able to play chess could think. But even after developing software that could beat grand master chess players, they realized that they were still far from a true thinking machine.
What defines thinking? For the last forty years, computer scientists, neurologists, philosophers, and psychologists have debated the topic. Some believe that the only way to obtain a truly thinking machine is to replicate the complete architecture of the human brain. Others claim that advances in computer design will allow us to develop a silicon-based brain. It is true that computers will be able to interact with users in more and more complex ways. However, abilities such as voice recognition do not necessarily define an ability to think. Part of the problem is that no universally accepted test for thinking exists.
One thing is for certain: in the future, people will be interacting with more sophisticated machines. Complex hardware and software will facilitate the interactions between people and computers. But for the foreseeable future, those interactions will be limited by the programming of the machines. The spark of creative thought will remain inaccessible by even the most complex computers.
Thanks to Normand Mousseau for contributing to the article.
revised by Brian McSpadden