Why Computers Aren't People

A Sophia Lecture Sponsored by CCT and Azuza Pacific University

Wednesday, February 13, 7 p.m. — 9 p.m.
Munson Chapel, Azusa Pacific University (East Campus)
Rachel Dee


Computers are not, and cannot be, people, where “computers” is taken to include robots that have digital computers as their central control unit. People understand the messages they produce; computers don’t. People have thoughts and feelings; computers don’t. People have Mental Powers; computers don’t. If computers can’t be people, it also follows that people are not computers; that is, that their minds and brains do not function in the way compu­ters do. This suggests that many research programs in artificial intelligence are misdirected, in that they rest on the mistaken assumption that people’s minds and brains function in a computer-like fashion. This in turn raises further questions about when we should and should not allow our thinking to be guided by “expert authority.”

Suggested readings for this lecture:

  • Hasker, William, The Emergent Self (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), ch.3.
  • Reppert, Victor, “The Argument from Reason,” in William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Malden, MA: Blackwell Books, 2009), pp. 344-390. 
  • Reppert, Victor, C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002)
  • Searle, John, 1980, “Minds, Brains and Programs,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3: 417–57
  • Turing, A. (1950), “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind, 59 (236): 433–60.
  • “A Turning Machine in the Classic Style” (link)
  • “Turing Machine” in Wikipedia (link)
  • “Zombies” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (link)
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