Re: Searle's Chinese Room Argument

From: Lyons, Tim (
Date: Fri May 24 1996 - 16:31:58 BST

What is Searle's Chinese Room Argument?

Searle's CRA disproves the claim that if a machine passes the
teletype version of the Turing Test then you have no reason to doubt
that it has a mind. The aspect of having a mind that is in question
here is understanding written language. If something understands
written language then it has a mind, if it doesn't understand
written language then it doesn't have a mind. Searle states that if
a machine can pass the test in Chinese, then it doesn't necessarily
understand Chinese, it is simply following a set of symbol
manipulation algorithms. If someone who doesn't speak Chinese was to
memorise the algorithms that the computer used then they would also
be able to pass the test in Chinese but would still not understand a
word of what they had written. This does not prove that machines
cannot have minds, it simply shows that if they do it is not due to
the computational states that they are implementing, because a
person can implement the same computational states with the same
symbols, and still not understand what the symbols mean.

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