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ERIC Number: EJ999098
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0738-6729
Making IBM's Computer, Watson, Human
Rachlin, Howard
Behavior Analyst, v35 n1 p1-16 Spr 2012
This essay uses the recent victory of an IBM computer (Watson) in the TV game, "Jeopardy," to speculate on the abilities Watson would need, in addition to those it has, to be human. The essay's basic premise is that to be human is to behave as humans behave and to function in society as humans function. Alternatives to this premise are considered and rejected. The viewpoint of the essay is that of teleological behaviorism. Mental states are defined as temporally extended patterns of overt behavior. From this viewpoint (although Watson does not currently have them), essential human attributes such as consciousness, the ability to love, to feel pain, to sense, to perceive, and to imagine may all be possessed by a computer. Most crucially, a computer may possess self-control and may act altruistically. However, the computer's appearance, its ability to make specific movements, its possession of particular internal structures (e.g., whether those structures are organic or inorganic), and the presence of any nonmaterial "self," are all incidental to its humanity. (Contains 10 footnotes.)
Association for Behavior Analysis International. 1219 South Park Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001. Tel: 269-492-9310; Fax: 269-492-9316; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A