The Chinese Room
|Philosophy : Thought Experiments|
You enter a room, with a division down the middle, and a small slot in the centre. As a mono-lingual english speaker, you are told that this room will help you translate the document in your hands, which is written in Chinese.
Simply put the document through the hole in the slot, come back a little later, and you will be given the translated document.
You try it, and sure enough, on your return the document has been translated.
Does the Chinese Room understand Chinese? Well, how else could it translate the document... of course it does.
You then find out that, behind the screen, is another monolingual English speaker, who has been given a set of rules to correlate the set of Chinese symbols with the symbols that compose the English language.
So, do you still think that the room is intelligent - it appears to exhibit intelligence by performing the translation, but is it really, or does the fact it is merely processing symbols prohibit this?
To put it more philosophically, does the system have any intentional states, or does its internal processes, being purely syntactic, lack any semantics?
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