The Chinese Room


The Chinese Room argument holds that a digital computer executing a program cannot have a "mind", "understanding", or "consciousness", regardless of how intelligently or human-like the program may make the computer behave. – Wikipedia

This is a classic Straw Man argument. If a computer does what I say, it can’t be intelligent. What about when it doesn’t do what you say?

If a computer is executing a program, it cannot have a “mind”.

Well dah. Why the assumption that the computer is executing a program? Maybe it is reading text and creating a structure, and the structure begins issuing instructions based on the states arising from transmission of states in the structure. The executed instructions change the states, directions and connections in the structure, which cause other instructions to be issued. Rather than being passive, the text is transformed into an Active Structure.

It would be reasonable to ask – “Have you created a list of instructions for a computer to provide an output that appears to match a human output – in other words, a Chinese Room”  “No, we have left such trivia to others”.

Well, the first thing you would find is that it would be extremely difficult to do. A person’s unconscious mind does most of the work in parsing text, and the person’s Four Pieces Limit means that they can only build very shallow structures on top. If you implement what the Unconscious Mind does, taking into account the vastness of language, the only way it can be made to work is have text build a structure which contains the meaning of the text. If you do that, you have created something sufficiently complex to “get the joke” when one emerges.

A goal is to break the FourPieces Limit – we don’t want the machine to “think like a human” – far too shallow and limited.


Popular Posts