Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Man and Machine. How do they differ?
Sent by Zita Perera Subasinghe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.