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Searle's Chinese room argument

Last updated Dec 25, 2021 Edit Source

Source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Mainly a refutation against the Turing test as a means for measuring intelligence. The narrow conclusion of the argument is that programming a digital computer may make it appear to understand language but could not produce real understanding.

“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 sends appropriate strings of Chinese characters back out under the door, and this leads those outside to mistakenly suppose there is a Chinese speaker in the room.”

We often attribute “understanding” and other cognitive predicates by metaphor and analogy to things that can’t be intentioned like cars and adding machines — we make these attributions as we extend our own intentionality onto them (derived intentionality)