The complexity of the process of thinking is evident in the very fact that the meaning of the word ‘to think’ can be interpreted in so many different ways. The definition of the process of thinking is also left open-ended enough to accommodate as many if not infinitely more choices and applicability.
However, scientists who are involved in what can be termed as thinking capability or ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in machines work on “the premise that all cognitive activity can be explained in terms of computation. This premise has a long and illustrious tradition in Western philosophy, starting with Aristotle and Plato, who believed that thought, like any other physical phenomenon, can be unraveled using scientific observation and logical inference. Gottfried Leibniz, who equated thought with calculation, set the stage for George Boole’s treatise on propositional logic boldly titled “The Laws of Thought.” The advent of computers and the progress made in symbolic computation led to a new branch of computer science envisioned in Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” (Reddy, 1996, p. 86)
The answer to the question ‘Can machines think?’ will therefore depend on two fundamental conceptions. First, the definition of the term ‘thinking’ or ‘to think’ will have to be fixed in the context of the man-machine equation, and second and more important, it will have to be determined whether machines are capable of thinking in the context of this definition, and if they are, then to what extent they are capable of doing so in comparison to human beings. Since the faculty of thinking is directly related to intelligence, the capability of thinking, either in man or machine, will also be a function of intelligence. Human intelligence is thus translated to Artificial Intelligence (IA) in machines.