Saturday, March 17, 2012

From random environment exploration to poetry

They can solve complex, multi-dimensional optimization problems, model and predict customer behavior, process huge volumes of data extracting novel and useful information, and even beat strong chess grandmasters. However, they lack a fundamental stuff; the thing that makes us special: machines fail at understanding the world---see the Chinese room argument, by John Searle.


Can we devise a computer capable of performing arts by itself? Can a computer program write a poem from scratch, with feelings and passion; the human essence? Not yet. Of course we can write a program that selects words at random following the syntactical rules of, say, the English language, but for sure it will not be as good as the average Joe at it. The brittleness of this program will be obvious to us.


Now imagine we have a machine that is conscious; a machine that has the properties of a fully developed mind. Because the nature of computers is so different from our biological reality, will we be able to recognize it?