Brains & Minds

The Minds of Machines

Namit Arora considers the complexity of consciousness and its implications for artificial intelligence.

As a graduate student of computer engineering in the early 90s, I recall impassioned late night debates on whether machines can ever be intelligent – meaning, possessing the cognition, common sense, and problem-solving skills of ordinary humans. Scientists and bearded philosophers spoke of ‘humanoid robots’. Neural network research was hot, and one of my professors was a star in the field. A breakthrough seemed inevitable and imminent. Still, I felt certain that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a doomed enterprise.

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