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Essay on The Chinese Room Argument

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John Searle formulated the Chinese Room Argument in the early 80’s as an attempt to prove that computers are not cognitive operating systems. In short though the immergence of artificial and computational systems has rapidly increased the infinite possibility of knowledge, Searle uses the Chinese room argument to shown that computers are not cognitively independent.
John Searle developed two areas of thought concerning the independent cognition of computers. These ideas included the definition of a weak AI and a strong AI. In essence, these two types of AI have their fundamental differences. The weak AI was defined as a system, which simply were systems that simulations of the human mind and AI systems that were characterized as an AI system that is completely capable of cognitive processes such as consciousness and intentionality, as well as understanding. He utilizes the argument of the Chinese room to show that the strong AI does not exist.
The Chinese Argument is based on the premise that a person who cannot speak Chinese may indeed learn and become literate in Chinese by being exposed to it in a room with symbols that are representative of the Chinese language. It is important to point out that the Chinese Room Argument is a thought experiment. It proposes that if a person is placed in a room fed Chinese symbols he will be able to speak Chinese. It is important to point out in this person must have no prior knowledge of the Chinese language and must manipulate the symbols based on how a computer would respond. Hypothetically, by following a set of rules, the person would be able to answer questions in Chinese. The processing skills would be mandated by a set of rules provided to the person. The rules would repre...


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...e and codes. With the continued advancement in computer technology, this entire argument though seemingly convincing, may in the future become a mute point. It is interesting that this argument has generated so much interest over the years. Undoubtedly, this argument is not with without fault yet, it still stands to substantiate beliefs that computers are not cognitively independent.



Works Cited

Searle, J. (1980), "Minds, brains, and programs", The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 417-457.

Searle, J. (1990a), "Is the brain's mind a computer program?” Scientific American 262(1):26-31.

Bridgeman, B. (1980), Reply to: "Minds, brains, and programs", The B.B.S. 3, p. 427.

Searle, J. (1980), "Minds, brains, and programs", The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, p. 423.

Lycan, W. G. (1980) Reply to: "Minds, brains, and programs", The B.B.S. 3, p. 431.


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