when software developers are convincingly hawking their products as
having artificial intelligence, the inevitable question has begun to
take on a certain urgency: Can a computer think? Really think? In one
form or another this is actually a very old question, dating back to
such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes. And after nearly
3,000 years the most honest answer is still uncertain. After all, what
does it mean to think? On the other hand, that is not a very
satisfying answer. However, with his paper: Minds, brains and programs
published in 1980, John Searle has had a huge impact on the artificial
intelligence issue worldwide. This essay will focus on Searle's idea
that computers are incapable of being conscious, and then analyse
whether Searle is right in terms of his three main efforts: a critique
of computationalism and strong Artificial Intelligence (AI); the
development of a theory of intentionality; and the formulation of a
naturalized theory of consciousness.
At the first place, the best-known example of Searle's critique of
computationalism and strong AI is his Chinese Room Argument. The
argument (1980) goes as follows: Searle supposes that, many years from
now; 'we have constructed a computer, which behaves as if it
understands Chinese.' In other words, the computer takes Chinese
symbols as input, consults a large look-up table (as all computers can
be described as doing), and then produces other Chinese symbols as
... middle of paper ...
unquestionable way. Therefore, just like Dennett's idea, we still can
say that making conscious artificial intelligence is possible in the
Daniel, C. Dennett (1991), Consciousness Explained, Penguin Books, New
Searle, J. (1980) Minds, brains, and programs, Behavioral and Brain
Sciences, 1: 417-24.
Searle, J. (1983) Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind,
Cambridge University Press, New York.
Searle, J. (1997) The Mystery of Consciousness, New York Review Press,
Armin Laux and Heinrich Wanshong (eds.) (1995) Knowledge and Belief in
Hhilosophy and Artificial Intelligence, Aksd. Verl, Berlin.
Margaret, A. B. (1990) The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence,
Oxford University Press, UK.
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