Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chinese Room Argument

Chinese room argument is an argument presented by John Searle, against the possibility of true artificial intelligence. It is a thought experiment which attempted to show that a signal processing machines like computers can never be considered as having a mind or understanding. If a machine is intelligent then it must be able to grasps the meanings of the sentences and then it can have beliefs. If the machine can have beliefs then it can also have other mental states, which mean that the machine has a mind. Allan Turing was the first person who presented a test for the machine intelligence and it is called the “Turing Test”. It says that a person does a conversation, with a human and machine each which tries appear as human, where each participants are placed in isolated locations. If that machine can fool the person who did the conversation, into thinking that it was a human, then the machine is said to have passed the test. Searle presented the “Chinese Room Argument” against the Turing Test. The “Chinese Room Argument” is as follows.

A native English speaker who doesn’t know Chinese is locked in a room full of boxes of Chinese symbols (a database) together with a book of instructions for manipulating the symbols (the program). People outside the room send questions in Chinese (the input) to the person inside and the questions are not understand by him. But by following the instructions in the program the man in the room is able to pass out Chinese symbols which are correct answers to the given questions (the output). The program enables the person in the room to pass the Turing Test for understanding Chinese but he does not understand a word of Chinese. From this argument Searle concluded that a computer program carrying out the rules doesn’t understand Chinese and therefore no computer program can understand anything. His conclusion was biology being is necessary for understanding. My arguments regarding the Turing Test along with the Chinese Room Argument are as follows.
  • It is not possible to say exactly that “Biology being is necessary for understanding”. Today it may be because the present computers are too simple or slow to come up with that kind of intelligence. In future computer may be able to intelligent.
  • We can think the English Speaker, boxes of Chinese symbols and the book of instructions as a single system. Although the man can understand English only, the whole system can understand Chinese. So we can’t think of man as a single and the whole system is intelligent enough to understand Chinese.
  • Although the man is locked in a room he is actually connected to the outside world. One way is through the Chinese speakers that he is talking to and the other way is through the programmers who designed the database and the program.

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