Searle's Chinese Room Experiment: An Analysis

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Properly Translating the Chinese Room John Searle's thought experiment concerning the "Chinese Room" attempts to disprove that so-called "strong-AI" (artificial intelligence that demonstrates "true" thinking and "understanding") could ever possibly exist. The argument is relatively straightforward: Searle imagines a computer running a program that allows it to communicate in written Chinese the program is capable of recognizing Chinese characters that are entered into it and of formulating a response in written Chinese that makes sense and appears conversant. This program is so perfect that it can convince a native Chinese speaker that the responses, generated solely through a series of complex rules or algorithms that the computer/program uses to react to the Chinese characters it receives as input, are coming from an actual human Chinese speaker. Next, Searle imagines that if he were placed in a room with this computer and if written Chinese communications were slipped under the door, he would be able (through use of the computer) to deliver appropriate responses to these communications without ever understanding a word of Chinese. As the human respondent (in this case Searle) is delivering Chinese responses without any understanding, he concludes that the computer program is working similarly, generating automatic if complex responses without actually understanding the language. While Searle's though experiment is elegant and might appear inviolate at the outset, a

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