Culture November 26, 2016
The technological progress we have made in the last few decades would astound men and women from even a century ago. Our computers, which once fit into an entire room, we now hold in our hands or pockets. We now have automated toilets, automated fast food ordering systems and even automated cars.
Especially now that Google’s AlphaGo program beat Lee Sedol, the world champion of the ancient Chinese game Go earlier this year, some people have become afraid that robots will one day surpass human intelligence. While it is probable that Artificial Intelligence will soon surpass human brain capacity, the comfort we can take before that happens is that the human mind has five distinct characteristics that distinguish it from computers.
Human beings possess the ability to create. We can create anything: furniture, art, presentations, fashion. Computers can certainly calculate and locate where to use the tools needed to create, but humans are the designers, the creators of the idea.
Our brains are unique in the sense that we think on our feet. Computers are capable of “thinking” quickly, but only when prompted. We have the capacity to understand that if you don’t have a hammer, you could use the blunt end of a screwdriver. Don’t have a corkscrew for that bottle of wine? You could use a knife. Computers cannot come up with that kind of information unless humans put it there for them.
Humans most notably have the gift of curiosity. Computers wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the curiosity of the human mind. We are constantly wondering “What else is out there?” It is this curiosity that puts humanity ahead of the game. A computer cannot inherently be curious. It is only as curious as the designer or user designs it.
A computer does not have wit or a cunning mind. Men and women have the capacity to formulate arguments and convince others of certain beliefs or ideas. A computer cannot convince you in the same way a human can. It can present you with facts and probable outcomes but it cannot necessarily persuade or inspire you to think a certain way.
It is impossible for a computer to have emotional intelligence in the same way that humans do. Humans are aware of shifts in mood and tension. Computers don’t have emotions. They can read facial expressions but they cannot accurately understand the emotions of other beings as we do.
Computers are smart and fast but humans possess qualities that computers don’t (at least not yet). So even though it might seem like computers will soon be able to unplug themselves and take over the world, it is not likely to happen anytime soon.
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