• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Can a machine know?

Extracts from this document...


Theory of Knowledge Essay: Essay Question: Can a machine know? To fully appreciate a concept or to know a person must apply different methods to acquire knowledge. A machine can never truly know. Machines just merely recreate what humans tell them to do. They cannot apply the methods that humans use to acquire knowledge. There are many ways of acquiring information; however I will illustrate 6 main methods; Empiricism, perception, Intuition, language, past experience, and thought are essential in the art of knowing. However, before I allude to my main argument I firstly want to discuss the main limitations that computers possess. Machines are not human and thus they cannot possess the ability to act like humans. Machines are pre-programmed and react in a particular way in a particular circumstance. However, machines can think and only can reach knowledge that has already been proven. An example of this is a designing program called Aaron created by Harold Cohen in 2001. He has given the program a knowledge base full of information about how people look and how their bodies move. The program also understands composition, brushwork and how to paint. However it is also obvious that computers will never obtain the human attributes of creativity from inspiration or observation as they don't have minds. ...read more.


For instance, when I looked at a coin from a certain angle, it seemed to have an elliptical shape. However, my mother doesn't see an elliptical shape but a round shape. Thus, our perceptions of the coin were different due to our senses acting differently. On the other hand, a machine is unable to achieve knowledge through perception and the use of the senses. Both cannot be translated into a numerical equivalent for the computer to recognise. However, the problem with empiricism is that it includes experience as well as sense perception. Knowledge of the physical world is considered a generalisation and can never reach more than a high degree of probability. Yet another method of ascertaining information is through language. Natural language use is determined by context and experience. A natural language can be understood in a variety of ways on the basis of the information it contains. Language owes some of its fundamental properties to the fact that it is used to express, store and convey information. Machines on the other hand understand information not by the use of language but by binary codes. As such, the computer translates information into binary in order for it to understand the information given by a human. Therefore, a computer would not understand slang, vague or socially unaccepted words. ...read more.


In this case, you would not have to know John Tom or Mary or know whether they exist or not to know if the proposition is true. All that is needed to solve this problem is the understanding of the concepts involved. This would include someone being taller than someone else. Thus, No particular experience is needed for the claim to be solved. However, a computer would not be able to solve this problem as they would only look at this knowledge from a language perspective. They would just be able to read the words on the page, or for others that are programmed, a mathematical way to solving the problem. However, due to us humans seeing these types of questions from our past experiences, and our ability to relate to vague language a lot easier, we can solve the problem much more quickly than computers as the answer comes intuitively. As we can see machines need to know the ways in which humans acquire knowledge in order to 'know'. Machines have the ability to learn an abundance of facts and information, however this doesn't constitute to knowing. Knowing something stems a lot further than just information. Machines cannot have the same awareness, observatory skills, thoughts or experiences that humans have. As such their knowledge is limited to specific subjects whereas humans can learn new and different types of knowledge everyday. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Can we know something that has not yet been proven true?

    It's often said that 'you have to see it to believe it' however this can't always be true because there are some things which we can't see but because we have been told by someone who has authority over us which leads us to believe in that certain thing.

  2. TOK essay: The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our language, it shapes ...

    There are also certain groups in society that use vocabulary and jargon of their own, relating to what they do in their everyday life, for example their job.

  1. In what sense, if any, can a machine be said to know something? How ...

    The Greek physician Galen definitively proved Aristotle wrong in a series of experiments on sheep brains by demonstrating that injury to the brain affected sensory perception and cognition. Without definite proof from Galen, people may have continued to believe that the heart was the center of all intellectual activity.

  2. Can a machine know?

    Knowing is completely different. It is being aware of the truth, having a belief or faith in something regarded as true beyond any doubt. So we can say that "to know" is objective because it doesn't involve our opinion, but "to think" is subjective because it does.

  1. Seeing James the Red Engine cry, prompted me to ask whether a machine could ...

    Descartes attempted to prove the dualist theory that mind and body are separate, he believed he could "feign" that his body did not exist, but he was unable to do the same when thinking about his mind. He therefore concluded that mind and body are not the same thing.

  2. Can a machine know

    How many times has my mother of father commanded me to go out and empty the garbage or to clean my room? Even if I complain and whine about how busy I am, I still do it anyway. My computer is very similar, recently I wanted to make a DVD

  1. We want to investigate on whether the development of computer technology brings more positive ...

    Personal vigilance, anti-spying software, or constant improvement in the computer hardware or software technology may help to patch up any loopholes discovered by computer hackers. 3. The inference of the Government on the information that its citizens get The Internet is a place we all go to, like any mall or plaza.

  2. Although complete dependence on intuition is not suggested, intuition is often surprisingly accurate. But ...

    A major category that must be acknowledged in order to thoroughly study this question is religion. Take Christianity as an example. Is there any way to prove against this intuitive explanation? Is there any way to prove that this explanation is true?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work