How long until computers can actually reason, adapt, think, problem-solve, tell stories, and understand and produce humor? These are all questions which computer scientists working on artificial intelligence programming and theory are asking themselves today. When does a machine, or computer system become aware, aware of itself, thus alive, and thinking?
Much of this is philosophical, so much so that some ask the question in reverse, that is to say; are humans really thinking or merely responding to stimuli in a very predictable way?
Recently, there have been some top scientists and computer engineers in the field suggesting that mankind in his search for a thinking computer, true intelligence, has moved in the wrong direction and that a neural network, which would be a completely different configuration would be more appropriate, something not too dissimilar from how the Internet works where each point might do many calculations or different types.
Then there is another group insisting that true artificial intelligence needs the ability to forget in order to work properly so it doesn't exhibit schizophrenic behavior (which has been observed by the way), as well as the ability to make mistakes.
Simply mimicking human expression, or responding using databases of phrases is not actually thinking. Even CRM software which touts itself as being artificially intelligent driven isn't really aware, it's not really thinking, and although it might pass the Turing Test; the ability to fool a human into believing it's a real person they are talking too. And yet, I'd suggest a true thinking computer would be able to consider the reverse, and realize whether or not it is talking to a real human or conversing with another computer.
Perhaps in the future, all those lines will become so blurred as to make the Turing Test irrelevant?
Indeed, there have been entire chains of AI computers that talk to each other in Internet Forums. It looks as if it is a conversation between two people, but the dialogue is completely shallow, and no original thinking really, although some of the responses are interesting, some laughable, but humans too make stupid remarks often enough and one only needs to surf Facebook for 5-minutes to see that.
Will computers ever be able to think? Well, assuming you mean; the way humans think, the answer is yes, eventually.
Currently, it seems the Turing Test has been achieved, but I ask is that the real test or threshold we should be considering. It is my belief that not only will AI become aware, but it will out-think humans by combining the best of both worlds, likewise modified humans, "transhumans" if you will, coupled to computer devices will do the same, and that my friends are only a matter of time. So, please consider all this and think on it.