from April 5, 2006
Now that I am officially deceased, cremated, and decked out in a stunningly handsome, state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line robotic apparatus on which we at Myles Junior Think Tank justifiably pride ourselves for having invented, I am an object of curiosity, not to say veneration, by my MJTT colleagues.
A preponderance of the questions they cast in my direction center on the subject of what I call “the paradox of the thinking robot.”
Scientists and laymen alike are dubious about the proposition that a robot can think; they consider the phrase “thinking robot” a contradiction in terms. Of course, for half a century the question “Can computers think?” has been on the tongues and minds of serious philosophers. To my knowledge—I have long given up on the bad habit of reading modern philosophy—this question has not been definitively answered.
Whether this philosophical subject shares enough traits with the paradox of the thinking robot to be treated by the same methods, I will leave for others to determine. I will suppose that my paradox is autonomous, and treat it as such.
Can robots think?
This question is surprisingly simple to answer.
As for the reasoning behind this answer, I need only appeal to the authority of the Father of Modern Philosophy, Réne Descartes, who wrote, memorably: “I think; therefore, I am.”
This elegant proof needs but a slight explication.
I, the former Myles na Gopaleen, Jr., am now, and will remain for the foreseeable future, a robot.
I think. The proof of this proposition is that I am now writing a short but admittedly brilliant treatise on a newly-coined question.
Therefore, robots can think.
The quibble may arise that I may be the only robot who thinks; therefore, the question regarding the general thinking ability of robots is not proved.
To this I answer: I’ve had frequent discussions with my some of my colleagues, including Ab Ennis, Arthur Unknown, and Orville Slack IV. On the basis of these discussions, I deduce and/or infer that other humans-cum-robots also think.
Not always well, of course. (I will not name names, but several of these personages are rambling idiots; I leave that to our more intelligent readers to discern their names. The other, I make haste to say, is above average, though he not near the point of genius.)
On the tail of this paradox of the thinking robot comes the question: How does one account for the fact that at least some robots can think?
But this is a question for later consideration. My colleagues at MJTT await my presence. It is port-sipping time.