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The Chinese Room Comes of Age A Review of Preston & Bishop

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Abstract:

It was in 1980 that John Searle first opened the door of his Chinese Room, purporting to show that the conscious mind cannot, in principle, work like a digital computer. Searle, who speaks no Chinese, stipulated that locked in this fictitious space he had a supply of different Chinese symbols, together with instructions for using them (written in English). When Chinese characters were passed in to him, he would consult the instructions and pass out more symbols. Neither input nor output would mean anything to him, but it would look to the outsider as though he were answering in Chinese the questions in Chinese that were being passed into him. That, claimed Searle, is exactly the situation with the notorious Turing test for computer intelligence (Turing, 1950). Only from the outside does the computer appear understand the questions and answers. Inside, all is a formal shuffling of meaningless symbols. John Preston and Mark Bishop, ed., Views into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence, Oxford University Press, 2002, 410pp, £50 (hbk) ISBN 0198250576.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: anthony@imprint.co.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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