Science

Would Humans Think a Thinking Machine Thought?

Posted 28 Jul 2008 at 21:25 UTC by steve Share This

Alan Turing and most researchers since have been asking the question: can a machine think? But an equally interesting question is: If a machine could think, would humans think the machine thinks? Some people seem so sure machine intelligence is impossible, would they accept it if they saw it? Others seemingly attribute intelligence to simplistic mechanical devices or even their PC. A group of researchers from RWTH Aachen University in Germany decided to study the question and have released a paper describing their results, "Can Machines Think? Interaction and Perspective Taking with Robots Investigated via fMRI" (PDF format). While people may claim anything about a machine, their brain engages different neural circuits when interacting with an entity of human-like intelligence because we try to model the mind of the of one we're interacting with. Researchers observed MRI scans as participants interacted with virtual agents, not knowing which were human or machine. What they learned is that to the extent an agent has certain characteristics (embodiment, anthropomorphism, and social interaction), our brain will accept it as a thinking entity with a mind.

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