Sunday’s Big Idea
Cognition and Intelligence
Daniel Dennett, professor of Philosophy at Tufts, sees the brain as a silicon chip inside a head. "We’re robots, made of robots, made of robots, made of robots," he says. But if the brain is a machine, why can't we create machines that are more like people?
It's isn't easy to face up to the hard problem of consciousness, especially for researchers studying artificial intelligence. For the past forty years, robots have fallen short of humans in their abilities to interact, make use of common sense, and judge the world around them. The process of trying to build a brain has much to teach us about the nature of human consciousness.
Michael Gazzaniga believes that we're still far from understanding and articulating, let alone creating, a convincing model. Physicist Michio Kaku agrees: the current limits of computing power don’t allow a robot to operate with the sophistication to rewire itself or the ability to change it’s structure and function in response to an experience, as the brain can. Sadly, it may be decades before we develop a robot that is as smart as your dog.
As a field, AI tends to focus on thinking, says David Gerlenter, but a brain is much more than thoughts and logic: it also dreams and creates.