Externalist views of semantics mean that meaning is what it is independent of our internal perceptions of things. We can't 'shape' reality with our language, rather our language must conform to the evidence of what reality is. I think it's plausible to say that our language creates a model of reality. Whether it perfectly captures its externalist and intrinsic nature is not knowable. Whether our senses fail us and we can't access the ultimate nature of reality is not knowable either. We should use the most rational arguements to determine whether this is the case and use the best evidence and tools at hand to justify these beliefs about reality.
If a computer was programmed to simulate a theory of semantics just like humans, what's the difference? If it was programmed to give the right response to these questions and answer the way you'd expect a human to do so, then so what then? The Chinese Room is supposed to show how strong AI is impossible. Strong AI being human-like AI, thinking or responding like a real human and actually 'know' it is (no matter what the computer can talk about: philosophy, science, art, etc.).
Since the participant (who doesn't understand Chinese) in the Chinese Room doesn't actually understand Chinese can we say an AI actually 'understands' what it is saying? Or does the room 'know' Chinese akin to a complete computer system 'knowing' the meaning of what it is saying. As in, thinking about the room itself is just as important in determining who or what understands Chinese as it is to consider the participant who doesn't understand Chinese. Somebody had to have made those cards with all the Chinese characters and responses on them in the first place. So the creator of the room is just as much a part of the room as the person who doesn't understand Chinese. However, that's why it is argued that the person who is conversing in Chinese but doesn't understand a word of it doesn't really understand Chinese at all and therefore a computer could never really think like a human either and 'know' it.
An AI, a strong AI, that could show it really 'knows' what it is saying isn't important to passing a Turing Test. As long as it appears to be doing so and is indistinguishable from a human counterpart, then this doesn't really matter. However, what this gets at is thinking about whether a computer can become conscious. As we know this can only occur in living organisms. Consciousness (if it exists) is an emergent property of the laws of physics, chemistry, evolution, and biology. Whether it can be simulated atom for atom, neuron by neuron on a computer is another question.
I think we are many years from finding this out if we ever do. But I don't believe just software can think like a human even if it does an extremely convincing job that it can think like us. A human has to give a computer its initial axioms, rules, constraints, and programming. Even though a computer could rewrite these it is still limited by this. It can't 'recreate' itself in the way we can. Imagining possibilities even if the universe itself follows deterministic laws. Intentionality within an AI system is circumscribed by the original architecture that the software is operating. An AI could be 'creative' and evaluate aesthetics given prior data sets, and it could ask questions based on some type of algorithm but it would never do these things unprompted or unsolicited in the way a human brain thinks. We don't have to have any reason or logical impetus pushing us to think a certain thing (emotions, intuition, imagination, or instinct may push us to think a thing). These thoughts appear to happen spontaneously even though the laws of nature may have determined this to be the case.
Silicon machines just aren't made of the same 'stuff' that we are. We may be able to model the human brain on a computer one day but will this mean it will be conscious? Again, something similar to human or animal consciousness would need to emerge from this combination of hardware and software for this to happen. That seems like an empirical impossibility right now as we don't think this can occur. Computers aren't 'living' like biological sapient creatures (no DNA, cells, neurons) even if they can act like them. Perhaps a fusion of living synthetic cells and computer hardware that uses software for its logical processing will be the only way we achieve an AI singularity. But without a biological component, a thinking machine will never be able to think like a human does. Silicon chips, transistors, hardware, circuits, electricity, and magnetism just aren't functionally the same as the emergent biological properties of life such as cells, DNA, metabolism, evolution, emotions, and brain chemistry. AI will always be a difference in kind because of this. It will think in its own way. Probably better than humans in many if not most ways but not all.