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PHIL PAPER - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Levin...

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1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Levin Philosophy 262g 12 February 2012 Can Machines Think? The intention of this paper is to demonstrate that Searle’s responses to the objections against his thought experiment, the Chinese Room, reveal how artificial intelligence does not have the capacity to think. A premise in the argument supporting artificial intelligence concludes is that the ability to use and understand language makes one a thinking, intelligent being. This conclusion is deductively reasoned on the grounds that computers are able to pass what is known as the Turning Test, in which a machine is asked a series of questions and its responses are indistinguishable from the answers of a human. Even though this may happen, Searle argues that the articulation of appropriate responses to a series of questions does not prove that machines can think. Searle uses The Chinese Room to validate this claim by showing that machines do not truly understand what they are saying. The first section of this paper will present the Robot Reply, which argues machines can understand, thus showing machines can think. The next section will show Searle’s responses to display how the Robot Reply is invalid. Then, I will further defend Searle’s claims using my own arguments against artificial intelligence as evidence. I agree with Searle’s objections to the Robot Reply and will argue that artificial intelligence cannot think, for a computer is only capable of manipulating inputs to outputs, regardless of how humanistic it may seem. The Robot Reply claims that even though the Chinese Room cannot understand Chinese, the possibility that non-biological machines can think remains valid. The Chinese Room is a
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2 scenario in which a person would be in a room full of Chinese writing and would be given instructions in English of how to manipulate the Chinese words. This person would be able to answer questions in Chinese, even though he has no understanding of Chinese. Because the person understands English, he is able to formulate the correct answers. In response to this experiment, the Robot Reply argues that it is still possible for machines to understand language and have meaningful thoughts if they are given the opportunity to interact with the environment. If computers were put inside a robot, the linguistic capacities of the robot would be beyond just “taking in formal symbols as inputs and give out formal symbols as output” (Searle 8). This robot would operate in such a way that it would be able to move, walk, and see. Computers alone simply do not have the disposition to be able to interact with the environment, but a robot
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PHIL PAPER - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Levin...

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