Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Philosophy Bro on the Chinese Room

Philosophy Bro: Mailbag Monday: The Chinese Room
Before I get into the experiment itself, here's the problem Searle is addressing - what does it mean for a machine to understand something? Is it possible we will ever produce a machine that can think on its own, that can learn and truly understand English? Offhand, it seems possible; after all, if we build a robot that speaks English as well as we do, who understands the nuances of language, who we just can't tell is a robot, then what exactly is the difference between his claim to know English and your best friend's claim to know English? This is the basis of the famous 'Turing Test' for AI - when we reach the point where we can no longer distinguish between a human and a computer when speaking to them, then we have truly achieved Artificial Intelligence.