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Zombies in Searle's Chinese Room: Putting the Turing Test to Bed

By Dr. Louis J. Jr. Cutrona


Searle’s discussions over the years 1980-2004 of the implications of his “Chinese Room” Gedanken experiment are frustrating because they proceed from a correct assertion: (1) “Instantiating a computer program is never by itself a sufficient condition of intentionality;” and an incorrect assertion: (2) “The explanation of how the brain produces intentionality cannot be that it does it by instantiating a computer program.” In this article, I describe how to construct a Gedanken zombie Chinese Room program that will pass the Turing test and at the same time unambiguously demonstrates the correctness of (1). I then describe how to construct a Gedanken Chinese brain program that will pass the Turing test, has a mind, and understands Chinese, thus demonstrating that (2) is incorrect. Searle’s instantiation of this program can and does produce intentionality. Searle’s longstanding ignorance of Chinese is simply irrelevant and always has been. I propose a truce and a plan for further exploration

Topics: Philosophy of Mind, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Psychology
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

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