Moritz103 PHI

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					                       BRAIN PARTS, CCOMPUTERS, AND
                          SEARLE’S CHINESE ROOM
                                BY MICHAEL MORITZ
                                     e-mail: mimo@restoel.net



This paper is a translation of the final pages of my thesis entitled Turing-Test und Searles
Chinesisches    Zimmer     written    at   the       Department   of   Philosophy   of   the
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz/Austria in 2001 with the kind support of ao.Univ.Prof.
Dr. Peter Strasser. The text presumes a certain knowledge of John Searle’s Chinese room
argument as published in his article Minds, Brains, and Programs (1980), and of the
general concept of digital computers as described in Alan Turing’s Computing Machinery
and Intelligence (1950). Both topics were covered in the earlier parts of my mentioned
work as well as the computer program ‘SAM’ which seems to understand stories in
several languages.
In his 1950 article Alan Turing proposes to replace the question of whether any machine
could think by playing a question-and-answer game. Within this game it is the machine’s
aim to trick a questioner so that he finally identifies the machine as human and the second
participant who is really human as the machine. If the machine and the respective
program were successful in this imitation game then why should we not call it thinking? –
Turing asks.
It is obvious that this experiment which has become known as ‘Turing test’ is of a
behavioristic nature and may be criticized with the appropriate arguments. Nevertheless,
Turing’s proposal had and has a strong impact on the research in the field of Artificial
Intelligence (AI).
Besides several other noteworthy discussions of it, John Searle presented in 1980 an
enticing thought experiment – the ‘Chinese room argument’ – in which he imagines
playing the roles of both participants, the human and that of the machine of the Turing
test. This leads him to the conclusion that both claims of Artificial Intelligence are wrong:
neither do computer pro-grams simulate human thought (‘weak AI’), nor could they
possibly produce or make a computer have anything similar to human thought (‘strong
AI’). In this paper I will try to briefly summarize Searle’s Chinese room argument and



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then confront it with an objection from Jack Copeland. Further on, Copeland’s points will
be discussed.
The aim of this discussion is to analyze the meaning of and necessary conditions for
understanding in an entertaining way.

Thesis, ‘Turing-Test und Searles Chinesisches Zimmer – Ein Beitrag zur Philosophie des Geistes’
   http://xarch.tu-graz.ac.at/home/mimo/thesis/index.html

Excerpt from my thesis in English, ‘Brain Parts, Computers and Searle’s Chinese Room’
   http://xarch.tu-graz.ac.at/home/mimo/thesis/thesis-paper.pdf

About the Author:
I have graduaded in 2001 and then moved to London / UK. I am currently working
full-time in a not-for-profit computing company called GreenNet. Although my thesis
research focused on the Philosophy of Mind I am now looking to gain more insights into
Political and Social Philosophy, hopefully, in the form of of a assistance lectureship or
tutorship at a London university or research organsiation.




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posted:10/1/2012
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