Mention AI and what comes to mind are images from your favourite Sci-Fi movie which has a super smart computer that behaves like a human. We all have our own notions of how AI is. The question is, “Just how much like a human can a machine be?”

My definition of Intelligence is the ability to analyse and process information. The faster and more efficiently one can do this, the more intelligent they are. On this topic, I will, however, have to ditch my definition for a more social-philosophical one. You see, machines can be able to do all the above a thousand times faster and way more efficiently than us.

So what makes us different and why would one then conclude that humans are smarter than machines?

Humans have one very important characteristic that machines don’t, a sense of self-awareness. For example, I know that I’m Patrick and I’m writing an article for reasons I fully understand. I am aware of my purpose in life, I have dreams and loved ones whom I care about. On the other hand, a supercomputer worth a gazillion dollars is not aware of its identity. A doctor may use it to carry out cancer research but to it, that’s just data awaiting to be processed. It is not subject to the emotion and morality that comes to play in certain fields.

But computers have human-like characteristics right? People have made robots that can be sad/happy, etc. There are some AI systems that can learn and a lot of other things that machines can accomplish. This is of course true.

Computers can be able to perform some human tasks and those they can’t, they mimic. There’s this game known as the Chinese room experiment where someone asks questions to two unknown subjects. One of the subjects is a human and the other is a machine. The one asking the questions is supposed to distinguish who’s who based on how the subjects answer the questions. Some machines have been known to pass this test and thus imply that machines have become human like. But remember that most of our habits can easily be mimicked by setting a couple of mathematical expressions.

There are a couple of things that can’t be forged though. For example, making decisions based on a moral compass. A machine would require a conscience in order to do that and I don’t believe any machine has one yet.

In conclusions, I do agree that machines have become better than us in many disciplines but we are still more intelligent in the sense that we are self-aware and also aware of our surrounding. Who knows what the future will hold? Will we finally be able to make a synthetic conscience? A synthetic soul that renders a machine as much of a human as ourselves? Only time can tell.

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