As a result, modern science has taken the initiative of attempting to replicate the manner by which the human brain efficiently operates. Sophisticated inventions and high-powered computers aim to capture the logic that the human brain displays. Moreover, these cutting-edge technologies to encapsulate the manner by which the brain breaks down complex stimuli, to analyze it and give the optimal or most appropriate response to the stimuli that it encountered.
The most intriguing of the recent technological discoveries is Artificial Intelligence, otherwise known as A.I. These technologies aim to replicate the decision-making processes of humans through the use of logic, by building and analyzing a complex knowledge database. With this mechanism, the machine is not only being programmed to decide, but it is also expected to learn from its mistakes. The build-up of a knowledge database allows the machine to look at its past performance, and to avoid the decisions that will eventually lead it to commit mistakes or suboptimal outcomes. In essence, Artificial Intelligence not only allows the machine to decide efficiently, but it ultimately allows the machine to learn.
From this point, a number of questions, bordering on the scientific and the philosophical, naturally arise. Can machines think and know' Why are machines more efficient in performing some tasks than humans' Can Artificial Intelligence eventually surpass human knowledge and reason, as we know it'
These questions provide a starting point to a more useful but more fundamental inquiry - what constitutes knowledge. An excerpt from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged eloquently explains the process by which knowledge is acquired:
Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and
reason his is only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty
that perceives, identifies and integrates the material
provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give
him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying
it belongs to his reason; his senses tell him only that
something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind. (934)
Rand's excerpt leads us to conclude that the process of acquiring knowledge involves perception, identification and integration.
Perception is the act by which humans absorb external stimuli from its environment. A man becomes aware of the existence of the existence of an external object, through his five senses. This awareness of reality is referred to as consciousness - man is made aware of external objects, and he perceives these through his senses. As Rand's excerpt explained, the senses give evidence to the existence of reality.
The dynamic nature of the human sensory functions allows humans to perceive and process more sources of external stimuli. The human senses can perceive different and dynamic combinations of stimuli that affect any, or even all of the five senses.
The data reception of machines, on the other hand, can be likened to the human sensory functions. Machines and computers can be programmed to receive specific varieties of stimuli. Compared to humans, the sensory programming of computer receptors is rather specific and specialized, thus limiting the perception abilities of the machine to those that are defined by the machine's maker. Once a machine encounters a stimulus that is not part of the stimuli that was