I'm a programmer interested in the development of artificial intelligence. I just read about the Chinese Room argument by John Searle, and would like to know if my reasoning successfully refutes his argument.
The Chinese Room argument more or less points out that a computer program might simulate consciousness / sentience, but never actually experience it in the same way a man, ignorant of the Chinese language might simulate knowledge of the Chinese language via a set of instructions, without ever actually experiencing the ability to understand Chinese himself.
I can see how Mr. Searle would arrive at his conclusion, but I believe he made an error.
An AI, perhaps Apple's Siri, upgraded 20 years into the future with additional capabilities would be programmed via algorithms, instructions, to interpret information and respond to stimuli, demonstrating without actually experiencing the vast complexity of thought patterns that form sentience, as Searle argued through the Chinese Room.
However, consider a different form of this AI simulation, one that perfectly mirrors the human brain:
What if we were to invent a machine capable of scanning and recording every cell, every electron, every velocity of every atom in a human brain, and then feed that data into a computer powerful enough to simulate that entire brain's existence computationally?
This simulated brain, as a modifiable data structure, would be a powerful AI capable of developing beyond the physical limitations of a physical human brain. The brain, regardless of it's medium for existence (a computer simulation), would be completely blind to the fact that it is in a computer simulation at all. Yet, it would perform in a perfectly identical manner to the brain of the person scanned, assuming all of the proper physics and stimuli are present in the simulation.
Therefore, who is to say that this AI, this simulated brain, is any less sentient than you or I?