The argument and thought-experiment now generally known as the Chinese Room Argument was first published in a paper in by American philosopher John Searle It has become one of the best-known arguments in recent philosophy.
Searle imagines himself alone in a room following a computer program for responding to Chinese characters slipped under the door. Searle understands nothing of Chinese, and yet, by following the program for manipulating symbols and numerals just as a computer does, he produces appropriate strings of Chinese characters that fool those outside into thinking there is a Chinese speaker in the room.
The narrow conclusion of the argument is that programming
Observer relative dating digital computer may make it appear to understand language but does not produce real understanding. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics.
The broader conclusion of the argument is that the theory that human minds are computer-like computational or information processing systems is refuted. Instead minds must result from biological processes; computers can at best simulate these biological processes.
Thus the argument has large implications for semantics, philosophy of language and mind, theories of consciousness, computer science and cognitive science generally.
As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument. Work in Artificial Intelligence AI has produced computer programs that can beat the world chess champion and defeat the best human players on the television quiz show Jeopardy. AI has also produced programs with which can converse in natural language, including Apple's Siri. Our experience shows that playing chess or Jeopardyand carrying on a conversation, are activities that require understanding and intelligence.
Does computer prowess at challenging games and conversation then show that computers can understand and be intelligent? Will further development result in digital computers that fully Observer relative dating or even exceed human intelligence? By the late s some AI researchers claimed that computers already understood at least some natural language. Berkeley philosopher John Searle introduced a short and widely-discussed argument intended to show conclusively that it is impossible for digital computers to understand language or think.
Searle argues that a good way to test a theory of mind, say a theory that holds that understanding can be created by doing such and such, "Observer relative dating" to imagine what it would be like to do what the theory says would create understanding. Searle summarized the Chinese Room argument concisely:.
Thirty years later Searle describes the conclusion in terms of consciousness and intentionality:. Searle's shift from machine understanding to consciousness and intentionality is not directly supported by the original argument. However the re-description of the conclusion indicates the close connection between understanding and consciousness in Searle's accounts of meaning and intentionality.
Those who don't accept Searle's linking account might hold that running a program can create understanding without necessarily creating consciousness, and a robot might have creature consciousness without necessarily understanding natural language.
Thus Searle develops the broader implications of his argument. It aims to refute the functionalist approach to
Observer relative dating minds, the approach that holds that mental states are defined by
Observer relative dating causal roles, not by the stuff neurons, transistors that plays those The argument counts especially against that form of functionalism known as the Computational Theory of Mind that treats minds as information processing systems.
As a result of its scope, as well as Searle's clear and forceful writing style, the Chinese Room argument has probably been the most discussed philosophical argument in cognitive science to appear since the Turing Test.
By computer scientist Pat Hayes had defined Cognitive Science as the ongoing research project of refuting Searle's argument. Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker pointed out that by the mids well over articles had been published on Searle's thought experiment—and that discussion of it was so pervasive on the Internet that Pinker found it a compelling reason to remove his name from all Internet discussion lists.
This interest has not subsided, and the range of connections with the argument has broadened. This wide-range of discussion and implications is a tribute to the argument's simple clarity and Searle's argument has three important antecedents. The first of these is an argument set out by the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz — Notice that Leibniz's strategy here to contrast the overt behavior of the machine, which might appear to be the product of conscious thought, with the way the machine operates internally.
He points out that these internal mechanical operations are just parts moving from point to point, hence there is nothing that is conscious or that can explain thinking, feeling or perceiving.
For Leibniz physical states are not sufficient for, nor constitutive of, mental states. A second antecedent to the Chinese Room argument is the idea of a paper machine, a computer implemented by a human.
A paper machine is a kind of program, a series of simple steps like a computer program, but written in natural language e. The human operator of the paper chess-playing machine need not otherwise know how to play chess. All the operator does is follow the instructions for generating moves on "Observer relative dating" chess board.
Turing was optimistic that computers themselves would soon be able to exhibit apparently intelligent behavior, answering questions posed in English and carrying on conversations.
Turing proposed what is now known as the Turing Test: By the late s, as computers became faster and less expensive, some Observer relative dating the burgeoning AI community claimed that their programs could understand English sentences, using a database of background information.
Berkeley colleague Hubert Dreyfus was an earlier critic of the claims made by AI researchers. Searle's Observer relative dating was originally presented as
Observer relative dating response to the claim that AI programs such as Schank's literally understand the sentences that they respond to. A third more immediate antecedent to the Chinese Room argument emerged in early discussion of functionalist theories of minds and cognition.
Functionalists hold that mental states are defined by the causal role Observer relative dating play in a system just as a door stop is defined by what it does, not by what it is made out of. Critics of functionalism were quick to turn its proclaimed virtue Observer relative dating multiple realizability against it.
In contrast with type-type identity theory, functionalism allowed beings with different physiology to have the same types of mental states as humans—pains, for example. But it was pointed out Observer relative dating if aliens could realize the functional properties that constituted mental states, then, presumably so could systems even less like human brains. The computational form of functionalism is particularly vulnerable to this maneuver, since a wide variety of systems with simple components are computationally equivalent see e.
Critics asked if it was really plausible that these inorganic systems could have mental states or feel pain. Daniel Dennett reports that in Lawrence Davis "Observer relative dating" a colloquium at MIT in which he presented one such unorthodox implementation.
Observer relative dating summarizes Davis' thought experiment as follows:. When any citizen's phone rang, he or she would then phone those on his or her list, who would in turn contact yet others.
No phone message need be all that is required is the pattern of calling. The call-lists would be constructed in such a Observer relative dating that the patterns of calls implemented the same patterns of activation that occur between neurons in someone's brain when that person is in a mental state—pain, for example.
The phone calls play the same functional role as neurons causing one another to fire.
Block was primarily interested in qualia, and in particular, whether it is plausible to hold that the population of China might collectively be in pain, while no individual member Observer relative dating the population experienced any pain, but the thought
Observer relative dating applies to any mental states and operations, including understanding language.
Thus Block's precursor thought experiment, as with those of Davis and Dennett, is a system of many humans rather than one.
The focus is on consciousness, but to the extent that Searle's argument also involves consciousness, the thought experiment is closely related to Searle's.
In this article, Searle sets out the argument, and then replies to the half-dozen main objections that "Observer relative dating" been raised during his earlier presentations at various university campuses see next section. In addition, Searle's article in BBS was published along with comments and criticisms by 27 cognitive science researchers.
These 27 comments were followed by Searle's replies to his critics. In the decades following its publication, the Chinese Room argument was the subject of very many discussions. In Januarythe popular periodical Scientific American took the debate to a general scientific audience. Soon thereafter Searle had a exchange about the Chinese Room with another leading philosopher, Jerry Fodor in Rosenthal ed. The heart Observer relative dating the argument is an imagined human simulation of a computer, similar to Turing's Paper Machine.
The human produces the appearance of understanding Chinese by following the symbol manipulating instructions, but does not thereby come to understand Chinese. Since a computer just does what the human does—manipulate symbols on the basis of their syntax alone—no computer, merely by following a program, comes to genuinely understand Chinese.
Strong AI is the view
Observer relative dating suitably programmed computers or the programs themselves can understand natural language and actually have other mental capabilities to the humans whose behavior they mimic. According to Strong AI, these computers really play chess intelligently, make clever moves, or understand language. But weak AI makes no claim that Observer relative dating actually understand or are intelligent.
The Chinese Room argument is not directed at weak AI, nor does it purport to show that no machine can think—Searle says that brains are machines, and brains think. The argument is directed at the view that formal computations on symbols can produce thought. We might summarize the narrow argument as a reductio ad absurdum against Strong AI as follows. A computing system is any system, human or otherwise, that can run a program.
The second premise is supported by the Chinese Room thought experiment. The conclusion of this narrow argument is that running a program cannot endow the system with language understanding. Searle's wider argument includes the claim that the thought experiment shows more generally that one cannot get semantics meaning from syntax formal symbol That and Observer relative dating issues are discussed in the section The Larger Philosophical Issues.
Criticisms of the narrow Chinese Room argument against Strong AI have often followed three main lines, which can be distinguished by how much they concede:. These critics object to the inference from the claim that the man in the room does not understand Chinese to the conclusion that no understanding has been created. There might be understanding by a larger, or different, entity.
These replies hold that the output Observer relative dating the room Observer relative dating understanding of Chinese, but the understanding is not that of the room's operator.
Thus Searle's claim that he doesn't understand Chinese while running the room is conceded, but his claim that there is no understanding, and that computationalism is false, is denied.
But these critics hold that a variation on the computer system could understand. These critics hold that the man in the original Chinese Room scenario "Observer relative dating" understand Chinese, despite Searle's denials, or that the scenario is impossible.
For example, critics have argued that our intuitions in such cases are unreliable. Sprevak object to the assumption that any system e.
Searle in the room can run any computer program. The objection is that we should be willing to attribute understanding in the Chinese Room on the basis of Observer relative dating overt behavior, just as we do with other humans and some animalsand as we would do with extra-terrestrial Aliens or burning bushes or angels that spoke our language.
In addition to these responses specifically to the Chinese Room scenario and the narrow argument to be discussed here, some critics also independently argue against Searle's larger claim, and hold that one can get semantics that is, meaning from syntactic symbol manipulation, including the sort that takes place inside a digital computer, a question discussed in the section below on Syntax and Semantics.
In the original BBS article, Searle identified and discussed several responses to the argument that he had come across in giving the argument in talks at various places. As a result, these early responses have received the most attention in subsequent discussion. The Systems Reply, which Searle says was originally associated with Yale, concedes that the man
Observer relative dating the room does not understand Chinese.
But, reply continues, the man is but a part, a central processing unit CPUin a larger system. The larger system includes the huge database, the memory scratchpads containing intermediate states, and the instructions—the complete system that is required for answering the Chinese questions. So the Sytems Reply is that while the man running the program does not Chinese, the system as a whole does.
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