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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Man and Machine. How do they differ?

Sent by Zita Perera Subasinghe

Basic characteristics.
Man is the being who we now look upon as human who has the body of head, chest, abdomen and limbs with girdles connecting the head to chest and abdomen to limbs which form is common to primates and other mammals. Man differs in being endowed with a highly developed and differentiated brain which has governing functions of the limbs and other parts of the body and which has a highly developed cortex region which gives man intelligence and high discrimination powers in reasoning and language. This is found to a lesser extent in mammals and lower forms of the animal kingdom but man has these faculties developed to a high extent and it gives Man the power to reason, choose and execute functions at a level which determines most of the advancements in the world. Man has the power to exercise choice in doing acts beneficial or detrimental to himself and his fellow men and the animal kingdom. He has the power to advance or destroy himself and his surroundings. He has the power to conduct his fellow beings and surroundings in a process of war or peace. He has the capacity for love and hate. He has free will. He can be industrious or lazy, active or inactive, good or bad and has even the power to exalt himself or destroy himself.

A machine on the other hand is usually made by man or under direction of a man or men. It is a mechanical contraption to perform functions, which could be helpful to other beings, e.g. work, or detrimental to others e.g. injury or causation of death.

Function
A machine can be programmed to function in a prearranged way do to required functions. and in doing so it usually requires energy which has to be provided in the form of an added power pack or device which imparts continuous energy provision. This happens in the human too like via the carbon cycle within the body. This ‘Power Pack’ is integrated into the human system from the beginning of the human being. And has to be fuelled by the provision of Food.  Fuel in its final usable form has to be provided in the machine. The energy is to be provided by combustion of fuel or use of direct energy forms like electricity.

Fault
Man is capable of fault due to exhaustion. Machine usually stops on exhaustion. Its function tends usually to be an all or nothing phenomenon. But a machine can make a mistake too by lack of maintenance or when it gradually runs out of fuel. In this way Man and Machine are similar.

Free will
As said before Man has free will, which the Machine has not. Man is the Boss and the machine is the Slave.
Man can choose to do good or bad by his own volition. But the machine usually has to be set to do what is considered to be bad or harmful by the person who manufactured or set it up. A machine has no free will.

Origin
Man’s origin is many thousands of years ago. History shows man has evolved physically and mentally over centuries. Charles Darwin enunciated the evolution theory of man from lower mammals but he could not directly show the evolution of a highly specialised brain in the man in his present form. Religions have a hand in this area of reasoning. In fact one of the defining qualities of man is the presence of a highly developed brain.
A machine can have high development in its structure and it can perform highly specialised function faster and more efficiently than man. But in the final analysis the machine has to be designed and directed by man.

Computation
 Since about 1000 BC there have been attempts at computation where man designed machines to do mathematics and other calculations fast and from mid 20th century this discipline was called computer science. In the last two decades this science has developed beyond all expectations and computers, which are ‘programmable’, do very complex functions in business, science and human recreation as with ‘computer games’, to such an extent that there is hardly any field, which now does not use computers. The latter, however, had its origins in 1850 under Charles Babbage and the first programme was considered to have been written by Linda Lovelace. The capacity to programme, ability to decode and behave as an electronic brain received a sudden boost after the second world war especially under the direction of Alan Turing of Bletchley Park fame. The idea of Machines, which were indistinguishable from a human, was his aim but to this day the so-called Turing Test which said man and machine could be made indistinguishable from each another has not been successful by any machine.

 Man has intelligence and so do machines and computers. But some human behaviour is ‘unintelligent’ and there is susceptibility to insults, temptation to lie, and man has a high incidence of typing errors that a machine does not!

A computer is programmable and executes functions with high accuracy.  But after all, man makes the computer!

A man finally is ‘alive’ with organic material in his body based on DNA, which is particular to his species. The machine needs no such chemical.

Man makes his power by burning food that he eats. The machine has to be given power by addition of fuel as already discussed.

Finally the argument that Man has Faith as in belonging to a Religion is unique and not found with a machine! Richard Dawkins the biggest modern critic of religion and faith calls Faith a great cop out! This is a subject, which does not add anything to the Man and Machine debate however.
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Note from Zita:

I have not given any references but most are from the Wikipedia. Please also note than Man refers to the human being who could be a woman as well!  I would like to hear any criticisms and additions from colleagues. 

21 comments:

  1. Thank you Zita for your excellent but unusual contribution!
    Man of course has emotional intelligence which I think cannot be introduced in to a machine. Of course man can reproduce but a machine cannot unless it is programmed. On a lighter note, the only Linda Lovelace I have heard of is the well known porn actress who played a leading role in the film titled "Deep Throat" which brought her in to the limelight.
    Sanath

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    1. Well Sanath, this Linda Lovelace of computer programming fame lived in the 1860s! May be the Deep Throat Linda is a reincarnation in more recent times?!
      Oh there again, we have not hear of a reincarnation of a machine. But there are many on record of possible 'reincarnation' of humans!
      Zita

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    2. I think the porn actress' real name was not Linda Lovelace. It was a "stage name." (I'm not 100% sure). There may have been an inside joke there somewhere...

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  2. Recently, a well programmed computer beat the current world chess champion.
    Sanath

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    1. Well Sanath, the rules of chess are easily taught to a machine, even the moves however much it may be open to reasoning and strategy and competitiveness it can still be taught to a machine. But the machine won't get up and go in a huff or in tears! That's truly human isn't it?
      Zita

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  3. Very interesting post Zita. Your question "how do they differ?" Implies that there are close similarities..I would like to ask the question "how would the close relationship between Man and Machine develop in the near future?" As we know, many traditionally human activities, including quite complex ones such as decision making, and diagnosis in Medicine, have been taken over by sophisticated computers. We are also in an era of automatic pilots, drones and driverless cars. I wonder what aspects of Man will forever remain elusive to machines. As Lama stated, machines lack emotional intelligence for one thing. Will machines ever exhibit highly evolved behsviour such as Communal cooperation? It would be possible to program robots for example to behave in such a manner but perhaps only for scenarios that could be imagined. It is hard to see how they could be programmed to behave in a communally thoughtful manner for totally unforeseen and unpredictsble situations but in a way they is benefitial to the group of robots. I think that machines will encroach more and more into human tasks. But can a machine have a "conscience"? Can a machine have consciousness? Can a machine experience fear, love, and other emotions? Probably not. But more and more work driven by algorithms and heuristic analysis as in Artificial Intelligence will be delegated to machines. These are some random thoughts while I prepare to return home from my holiday in Australia

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    1. Thanks for that excellent reasoning, Mahendra, and there you are! Reasoning, what you are doing now, to be done by a machine in situations where it has not been programmed to face, is the difference. And you have aptly discussed it. And obviously in the present state of things, machines can't experience 'emotion'.
      Thanks again!
      from Zita

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  4. Zita,you are indeed a boon to the blog as Lucky would wholeheartedly agree!
    Prof SPL's comments regarding emotional intelligence and reproduction are of essence.
    As for man's "free will", volumes have been written over the ages by philosophers, psychologists, poets,and in religious texts-and I cannot make any attempt even to touch on their theses!
    In short,"free will " is not absolutely free.
    Man's choices are operational within a set framework according to his or her current environment and circumstances,
    experiences from the past, and genetic influences inherited from unknown numbers of generations-hence in some way pre-programmed -ie determinism, and there is also the phenomena of "cause" and "effect".
    For a given effect(decision or action) a prior "cause" had to be present.
    Hence in my view, we are "creatures of circumstance" to put it in Somerset Maugham's words, with no absolute "free will" and "the awesome force of destiny"(ND's phrase) cannot be ignored.The supposed "free will" may be the mechanism by which the pre-programmed outcome is effected. ???


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    1. Rohini, that's a very thought provoking comment. Thanks! It demonstrates aptly the difference between Man and Machine, and your take on 'free will' is even more significant. Free will too is 'pre-programmed'? Goodness we are so close to machines aren't we?
      One thing though, OK I agree we have 'free will' operating within the preprogrammed outcome. But this reprogramming is to conform to the rules of society isn't it? In the setting of complete freedom, say in a jungle or an ashram or on a visit to the South Pole we can exercise complete free will, what do you think? Anyway today while sitting in front of this machine, the computer, I have complete free will!
      Zita

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    2. Zita, this is also only my "two cents worth"!
      To be honest- I don't think that it will be free will I will be able to excercise wherever I go-
      Ashram or South Pole,I will be a creature working around the circumstances I find myself in, and dealing with issues as they arise.
      As I've sat here in front of my computer the phone has rung twice- necessitating me to stop and start.
      I could opt to ignore it right now ,but would be obliged to listen to what is required of me at some point soon and attend-even if it is not convenient to me!
      Some days I wake up with a big plan of my own for the day- my "free will" plan! and find I have to change it all to accommodate something else of more importance that crops up.All I can do is deal with the situation as best as I can and feel happy about it knowing that it is the way of things! free will??
      It makes me very happy to think you feel perfectly "free".
      I dont feel I have "free-will" in that sense, but am comfortable with how things are.
      Not worth even two cents??

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    3. Zita and Rohini, interesting discussion about "free will." I am not sure that one has complete "free will" at any time, but we do have choices, don't we? The choices are often influenced by circumstances and the people around us. I think Somerset Maugham was correct, as Rohini said.

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    4. Srianee, Rohini! This subject especially that of free will has been adequately dealt with by such profound thinkers as you- Siranee, Rohini, Mahendra. But let me add a sentence I recently heard on this subject: 'There is no Liberty without Security.'
      This came up in the connection with recent attacks when people said that security hinders liberty or free will. But if we are prepared to forgo this 'complete security' we can have complete free will. i.e. if we are not bothered about the outcome. But we don't follow that argument as we are law abiding, decent citizens who are prepared to give up a bit of free will to 'Live and Let Live'.
      Not sure if I made myself clear though. Anyway thanks very much for the discussion.
      Zita

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  5. Mahen, It seems your fun in the sun is over for now!
    Your comment above probably came in while I was typing mine- and hence your valid musings on conscience and communal cooperation by computers was missed by me-
    What makes you think our computers are not sharing everyone's jokes,music, poetry and literature, and surreptitiously "having a ball" on icloud! just as you and the rest of us are miles apart but sharing them on ciberspace?
    Just a thought as it came to my head!! (taking Zita's plea to "write anything" seriously!

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  6. After reading Lama's, Speedy's and Rohini's profound deliberations on Man vs Machines, I dare not contribute my two cents worth!
    Sriani B.

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    1. On the contrary, Sriani, we would all love to read your input. Rohini, it's a charming thought that the machines are having a laugh at us up in the iCloud and saying 'aren't they so simple minded?' 'They'll never guess what fun we are having!' etc.
      Zita

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  7. Zita,
    Thank you for stimulating an interesting intellectual discussion. I feel like Sriani, but I will contribute my "two cents" anyway. I don't think the programmers have figured out how to make computers react emotionally, although artificial intelligence is a reality, isn't it? But, perhaps in some situations it is better for emotions to not get in the way. Think of some recent airline tragedies which were the direct result of an airline pilot's emotional state. However, is anyone ready to get into a pilotless plane? I don't think I am!
    Has anyone interacted with Siri on their iPhones? She is almost human. I don't have an iPhone, but one of my friends asked Siri "Will you marry me?" After a long pause the reply was "I will have to think about it." And who can forget Hal in 2001 Space Odyssey!

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    1. Srianee, I want to compliment you on your take on 'free will when the person is not in a position to make clear judgement' as it happened in that deliberate plane crash that you mention. This is it, free will can be destructive in certain circumstances. We have evolved into a society who live in communities taking into consideration others' needs, safety and comfort. So whatever free will we have should be secondary to that.
      Zita

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  8. Coming back to computers and intelligence, it appears that we have reached the stage where the programs man has made for computers are so good that they "learn". A program for playing Poker is so advanced that even the programmers don't quite know how the computer program (called Claudico), picks its moves. We have gone beyond simple algorithms to complex "learning" ones. I can see such programs coming into use to solve complex medical problems,often with only imperfect information.

    I doubt if machines could ever display emotion as we know it. Emotion is not logical and not easily predicted by its very nature.

    One frightening scenario is where man made Intelligent computer/machines gang up and turn against us not because they display emotion but paradoxically, by the fact that they do not, and will act unemotionally and mechanistically for what is seen as the best outcome in cold, hard unemotional terms. Mind you, this type of behaviour is already seen among certain types of politicians who measure success in cold monetary terms and are blind to human needs!

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  9. Indeed Srianee, who can forget HAL?
    'He' displayed suspicion,fear,ability to keep a secret,ability to lie , and even plan murder! There you are Mahen! Its all very scary when you think that in the not too distant future HAL might actually materialize, just as so many of Arthur C. Clark's mental 'projections' such as the internet,satellite communications,GPS etc have already come into being.
    As regards pilotless planes, I don't know that I could even cope with a driverless car!!

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    1. I agree with you Rohini, about driverless modes of transportation. But, there are times when I think that it may be better than some of the crazy drivers out there. Did Arthur C. Clarke write about all of those things? I knew about satellite communications, but wasn't aware that he wrote about the internet, GPS etc. But, I am sure you are correct. A few weeks ago I downloaded a biography of A.C.C., but I haven't read it yet. (You may have already read it.) It is called "Sir Arthur C. Clarke: Odyssey of a Visionary" by Neil McAleer. I think I should read it soon!

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    2. From Zita :OK folks! Am I allowed one more say on this subject? Man is superior to machines in having intuition, aspiration, in the ability to factor in other considerations in making decisions and this definitely makes man superior to machines. But as we saw many times in the not so distant past, some individuals are ready to disregard even the lives of innocents when doing their actions and if we the 'wholesome' ones can't influence them, teach them and stop them doing these dastardly acts we 'the good ones' have failed. In this respect Machines will not do deliberate harm to other machines or humans.
      Zita

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