chapter  9
5 Pages

Could machines think?

Now if Wittgenstein is right in his statement that ‘we only say of a human being and what is like one that it thinks’, then it should not be surprising that the idea of a machine thinking, perceiving and wishing seems nonsensical, since the machines with which we are familiar – washing machines, lawnmowers, aeroplanes – have little resemblance to human beings, and the idea of regarding such objects as capable of thought, etc., may well strike us as suitable only for nursery stories. Nowadays, to be sure, one may be more likely to think of computers as being the relevant kind of machine. But here again, we would probably feel little inclination to ascribe such qualities to the computers we encounter in normal life, however complex their design, and however impressed we may be by what they can do; for here again the resemblance with human beings – with the appearance and behaviour of a human being – is lacking.