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13

I'm very familiar with the argument John makes with his Chinese Room argument, and he's extremely consistent about what he means it to portray: that our concept of what it means to understand language is mistaken when we try to apply the term to any machine which operates only syntactically. It's primarily a refutation of the notion that a Turing Test is ...


13

A trivial web search will bring up an enormous amount of material on this. For instance, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Searle's "Chinese Room" thought experiment identifies three major categories of objections and goes into some detail on each (and provides generous citations.) Here is their high-level summary of the categories of ...


12

Wittgenstein in his intermediate period provided a response, before the age of AI research and Searle's objections. In a nutshell: semantics is another syntax. Words only mean as role players in a linguistic calculus, and their meaning reduces to the collection of rules governing their use in the calculus. Of course, he was thinking of mathematics and ...


7

What you indicate is that the tome which allows John to simulate communication in Chinese is a rather tremendous computational resource: one which is very close in complexity — assuming that its rules are complex enough to successfully years of conversation in the same way that a Chinese essayist might — to simply conferring with a Chinese person....


7

I use John Heil's Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology, which is great in that it contains readings covering the breadth of philosophy of mind and from different perspectives on the various topics rather than a collection of works that are solely aligned with the editor's views. It also contains all the classic papers which anyone seeking introductory ...


6

I quite like the chapter in Jack Copeland's Philosophy of AI book on the Chinese room. Even though it's an introductory book, it goes into quite some breadths and depth. The chapter has a summary of the arguments against the Chinese room, and the retorts from Searl and friends, plus counter retorts. Rest of the book also sets the context of the discussions ...


6

Yes, he (correctly) means "a formal-symbol manipulating device". But "manipulation" needs a little clarification. The usual textbook formalism is given by the lambda calculus, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambda_calculus#Formal_definition (google "lambda calculus" for lots more). But electronic devices natively implement only a much simpler (...


5

I would like to suggest that your puzzlement arises from confusing intelligence and consciousness. Neither concept is well defined but nonetheless they are distinct. Searle would say that a Chinese room cannot be conscious, not that it cannot appear to be intelligent. In fact the original argument revolves around the concept of understanding which is another ...


5

I think a key difficulty is that different people mean different things by the prefix "virtual." For some people (I think Searle is one of them or close to being one), virtual means simulated -- that is fake, not achieving the real thing. For other people "virtual" means occurring digitally or something like that. And I think there are cases where we would ...


5

Searle isn't suggesting that he can't learn to understand Chinese. He's asserting that, just because a computer can answer questions like a human, does not mean that the computer understands language. In his thought experiment, he's just like a computer when it comes to Chinese because he doesn't understand it. You shouldn't get hung up on it being Chinese ...


5

Even if the man inside the Chinese room memorised every single translation instance (theoretically every possible combination which is impossible given our limited memory, but it's a thought experiment, so this constraint doesn't matter), would he understand Chinese, since he doesn't understand the meaning of any of the cards he has been presented with? ...


5

Short answer is no; modern computers cannot do things that Turing machines can't do. What they can do is run very sophisticated, complex Turing machines that simulate things that Turing machines would not be able to do. This is an important point; Artificial Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms, Fuzzy Logic Algorithms, and all the other types of 'machine ...


4

Although I believe Searle is mistaken, I don't think you have found the problem. You are postulating that the input contains the content not just knowledge of Chinese in distilled form, especially with the walking-across-the-room example. But many machine learning algorithms simply take lots of examples and can then generate appropriate behavior (within ...


4

There has been a vast literature critiquing Searle's viewpoints, enough to be collected, e.g., John Searle and His Critics. Ernest Lepore and Robert Van Gulick, eds.; 1991. (Wiley link) There are also collected criticisms of his Chinese Room Argument; see the excellent Wikipedia article, and this collection: Views into the Chinese Room: New essays on ...


4

I think that any comprehensive account of meaning must include an account of intentionality, but the real challenge is to give an account of both meaning and intentionality in non-intentional terms. Otherwise, we risk spinning in a little circle. Here is Brandom in Between Saying and Doing: "If one is allowed to use the full resources of semantic ...


4

There is rarely a consensus that some philosopher is "right" about something. But there is a general sense in analytic philosophy that the linguistic turn exhausted itself by 1990s, and exactly because of stumbling at the issues related to the philosophy of mind, to which the focus shifted. But the interrelation the relation is seen as more of a mutual ...


4

The argument is against the validity of the Turing test as a sufficient sign of intelligence. In a comment, you say: Perhaps I should reword the question to Given enough time, data, & quality programming what makes us think the computer proper can't learn via pattern recognition & analysis as a human could? Searle's argument doesn't dispute ...


3

John Searle's Chinese Room example is clumsy and is vulnerable to all sorts of refutations from a strictly technical point of view (The systems reply, The brain simulator reply, etc...). But this is unfair to the argument, because beneath the awkward thought experiment there is a deeper epistemological question which does warrant serious consideration. ...


3

You don't have to go so far down as the laws of physics. Most classes of life exhibit intentionality without consciousness (amoebas, viruses, plants, etc...). Daniel Dennett talks about it in many places, but I specifically read about it in his book "Kinds of Minds". See also Dennett's intentional stance and his idea of free floating rationales (described ...


3

I think this is a very interesting question (and improved in tone after the edit). First terms: There's some heavy terminology getting thrown about in your question, terminology with debatable meaning. So to start out, I'm going to give the definitions I work from (I've read some Searle but I'm a Hegel scholar -- not a social ontology scholar). I take "...


3

Searle's Chinese Room arguments depends initially on the assumption that, if there is an intelligent system, some component of the system must be intelligent. Carrying this a long way to a conclusion, each lepton and quark in the Universe must be intelligent to some extent. The alternatives to that conclusion are either (a) there is nothing intelligent in ...


3

Isn't that rather what an email is/does? Transporting untranslated information from A to B, exactly the way the information was inputted? But that's exactly the point Searle makes with his analogy - the man who doesn't speak Chinese but actually acts (considering only the outcome of his actions) as if he did, because he has a book of rules that tell him how ...


3

The inverse square law is about gravity, the triangle inequality is about triangles, "the grass is green" is about grass. They sure are. But what makes them being about? A brick wall has bricks in it, but it is not about bricks, or anything. What distinguishes the three examples above from the brick wall is that they are not objects but propositions. Well, ...


3

There seem to be several things not understood in asking this question. Searle gave an intuitive argument. He did not and still does not understand the details so there was a limit to what he could explain. It doesn't actually matter if you used books or you used a filing system or a database or you used a state of the art AI, the results would be the same....


3

Functionalism is the view that mental states are nothing but the mental functions being performed. That is, there is no underlying mental "substance," for the lack of a better term, other than the functions performed by a mind. Therefore, bearing that in mind, one can argue that AIs can actually have mental power, since there is no underlying mental "...


3

John Searle's Chinese Room Argument (CRA) does not object to using computers as tools to simulate human understanding but to the claim that the simulating machines and the programs actually understand language and that this explains how humans understand language: Partisans of strong AI claim that in this question and answer sequence the machine is not ...


2

I like this one: Artificial Intelligence: A Philosophical Introduction By: Jack Copeland, 1993 (link) It is mainly about AI, but compares the functinality of the brain and machines. Very basic, straight forward, and pleasant to read. As for Searle-related things, the Chinese room argument is used at least.


2

Because the Chinese room emulates the operation of the computer program, the question arises whether the statement that the computer program understands Chinese is equivalent to the statement that the Chinese room understands Chinese. I think that's precisely what Searle's argument is getting at. Our intuition tells us that the room does not understand ...


2

Where does this instruction book come from? a hypothesis Before the official opening of the Great Chinese Room John had a different book and a tall stack of real-life questions-and-answers in Chinese - the Complete Chinese Corpus. This other book instructed John how - using the stack of questions as a training set - to write the book he's presently using ...


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