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Thinking, Emotion, and Self-Awareness

I magine an artificial being with a humanoid body and hu- manlike senses. Imagine it on its way to carry out a task, perhaps to retrieve a certain book from a certain desk.Watch it walk through its environment, adjusting its path so that it doesn’t collide with people it encounters. Perhaps it recognizes someone, say- ing “Hello” and greeting the person by name; it might stop others and politely ask permission to scan their faces and ask their names, to hold in its memory. You might also see it giving reasonable answers to questions like “What’s your name?”“Where are you going?”or even— as it consults its built-in wireless connection to the Internet—“Is the stock market up or down, and by how much?”When it finally reaches the right desk, it identifies the book by its color or title, picks it up, and walks back to where it started.

Each action, from walking to seeing to talking, has been described in earlier chapters as a separate achievement, although not necessarily all in one being or as part of a robotic body. Some artificial capabilities have meaning and value even if implemented only on a computer. Artificial vision and speech, for instance, have been goals of AI re- search apart from their use in robots because they are significant parts of human intelligence and because they have useful applications such as the translation of language by a machine.

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