John Searle's Chinese Room

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John Searle’s “Chinese Room” is a thought experiment that he explained in his Minds, Brains and Programs. The purpose of this experiment was to prove that computers do not have a consciousness, or any sort of mind or understanding, regardless of if the machine appears to. The scenario that Searle creates begins by introducing a computer that appears to understand the Chinese language. One inputs Chinese characters, and through a computer program, it is able to produce an output of Chinese characters. This input is normally in the form of a question and the output take the form of an answer, so any Chinese speaker would likely conclude that the computer knows how to speak Chinese because of the intelligent conversation they were taking place in. Searle creates this situation to promote the question of whether the computer actually comprehends and understands the Chinese language, or if it is purely feigning and mimicking the ability to understand the Chinese language. Searle goes on to imagine himself being in an enclosed room where he has a book that explains, in…show more content…
However, Searle explains that neither he nor the computer would understand the conversation they were participating in. He has no knowledge of the Chinese language, and neither does the computer. This realization leads to Searle’s main argument that a computer does not have any sort of “thought” that humans experience, because humans are able to understand and comprehend things in their mind, whereas computers can not. Although Searle has an intelligent mind and is capable of thought, while acting in the experiment he would not be using this “thought”, he would simply be following directions, and that, in his opinion, is enough proof that computers are not intelligent in the same way humans

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