Will computers surpass the human brain?
Before the ’70, we had the impression that information was finite and raw materials were infinite. “The Limits to Growth”, the 1972-report of the Club of Rome, announced a real change in our view of the world materials are finite. At the same time, the previous century has been characterized by a huge increase in knowledge and information. The amount of available data has become infinite and growths with billions every day. To afford this huge amount of data, computers are considered as a help for us to understand the world. The last decade, computers received a lot of attention. More and more people strongly believe that those machines will be able to surpass the humans and will control everything. But is the digital domination really realistic? In this blog, I will give my own answer to the title. Be aware that this blog is influenced by my own opinion.
Firstly, it is important to explain a difference between discoveries and inventions. When you discover something, that something already exists. People did just not know it was there. Most of the discoveries are explained through existing concepts to make it understandable. Inventions do not have a precedent. They are mental creation of a human. So, for example, the relativity theory of Einstein is a discovery and not a invention. He tried to explain a physical phenomena with well-know physical concepts like acceleration, mass and energy.
Secondly, the world can be divided in two parts: “what the world really is” and “what we think about the real world”. World around us is really complex and to be understandable the human creates simplifications. This can be compared to boxes . “Think out the box” is often cited when we talk about inventions. It is more useful to change this citation in “Think in a new box”. Because humans necessarily creates a new box when they think outside old boxes. Thanks to this boxes, we try to explain the world in front of us.
Finally, the core of the blog. One of the important discussions now-a-days is “Will machines surpass the humans?”. The answer is probably bivalent. Yes, the machines will probably and already surpass the human in the field of discoveries. They can compute and analyze large amount of data without any human interaction. Thanks to logical reasoning and concepts, they are and will be able to discover how to treat some illnesses, etc. But they have one negative point, computers think only in old boxes. They can only approximate the real world through algorithms. The human brain has a main advantage: it can invent new explanations of the real world with new models and concepts. In philosophy, this kind of reasoning is called heuristic.
As a conclusion, it will be very difficult to create machine that will be able to deduce new models from the world in front of us.
In my point of view, computers are useful instruments to make human life more easy and help in new explorations, but they will never be able to surpass the humans in creativity and innovations.
- “Les choses et les mots de l’entreprise”, Luc de Brabandere
- “DLDwomen 14: thinking in new boxes”, Luc de Brandere, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh9EMu53nbA
- the slides of course in “Philosophical approach of technology and innovation” thaught by the Luc de Brabandere at the Louvain School of Management (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium)