Computers don't choose their own rules
We refer to people "having no mind of their own" when they only follow the rules / commands of others. Computers are in a similar situation. They are programmed with rules and follow commands without conscious choice. Hence, they lack free will.


L. Jonathan Cohen, 1955.

The Cohen argument

"Consider some of the situations in which we do say that a human being either has, or acts as if he has, no mind of his own.

One situation occurs when we are watching the parade-ground drill of a Guards battalion. "By force of training", we might say, "they have come to let all their thinking be done for them by their officers and n.c.o.'s, and so they move with clockwork precision like mindless machines." Of course, we should admit that the soldiers are not really without minds of their own, because when they are off duty we know no programme of rules and commands which effectively controls all their behavior....

What I have been trying to point out is an opposition between the still familiar concept of mentality and the concept of total subservience to known or knowable rules. The metaphor of 'artificial minds' clearly destroys this opposition by ascribing mentality to programmed artifacts"
(L. J. Cohen, 1956, p. 40).


Cohen, Jonathan. 1955. Can There be Artificial Minds? Analysis, vol. 16, no. 2.

Artificial Intelligence »Artificial Intelligence
Can computers think? [1] »Can computers think? [1]
No: computers can't have free will »No: computers can't have free will
Computers don't choose their own rules
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