Incredibly, a super computer has been created by IBM that has the thinking capability of a cat at the click of a mouse. Of course the supercomputer, dubbed C2 by the research team putting it together, has raised some serious ethical questions, for example: When is it no longer ethical to turn it off? Though the computer thinks as much as a cat does, it is still in the early stages of development. C2 is quickly developing, however, and has already surpassed the 4 percent mark of human capability. Soon, it is estimated, a computer will exist that thinks as well as a human’s cerebral cortex. The only problem? They still don’t know how it works.
It seems the computer version of a cat’s brain is just as impossible to figure out as the organic one. Synapses fire and thoughts seem to chaotically pour out for no reason about things that quite simply make no sense. When hooked up to an EKG machine, the computer clearly displays computer simulations of consciousness, but the scientists analyzing the data are no closer to unlocking the mysteries behind the brain. Though the machine runs slower than a cat’s brain, it’s a simple matter of adding memory to each CPU to make the complex device run in real time, and interactions become like a cat. Now the question becomes, how and when do we give it a body? Robotic technology has already surpassed our wildest hopes, spurring many to think the robotic revolution is the next step in technology just as the computer revolution took us all by surprise in the 1990’s. Now with computers so advanced they can actually think, we’re harnessing capabilities that may eventually end up with as much cerebral activity as a human being.
The breakthrough came when scientists stopped looking at the brain as a static computing machine that could only do mathematical equations and was merely a matter of megabytes. The brain, as it turns out, is actually a complex elastic response system with many parts moving independently of one another but still in communication. The simulation creates data so rich and complex, that an entire team of scientists could spend years studying just one second of data that comes out of the machine. And in all of this, the machine continues to get more complex.
As the machine gets more complex, how soon will it be before we teach it to improve upon itself? How soon after that before the machine actually develops a consciousness comparable (though not exactly like) a human brain? With all of its technical computing power will it become our greatest ally? Though science fiction dictates that machines will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that mankind must be destroyed, how can we know what we could share in common with a thinking computer? After-all what is our immediate reaction to the concept? No doubt many will feel fear as they hear of a computer becoming advanced enough to make decisions and even study ethical reasoning. It is this level of development, however, that seems most interesting. Once a machine is created that “thinks,” will it still be “programmed” or will it be so complex that it can only learn?