In today’s world, we are surrounded and engulfed by technology– computers, telephones, clocks, TV’s, refrigerators, and so on. With thesetechnological marvels we can translate languages almost instantaneously, haveconversations with our smart phones, commute with self-driving cars, and even classifya robot, Sofia the Robot, as a verified Saudi Arabian citizen. These technologiesand their developments have slowly taken an essential part in people’s day to daylives, however with these advancements a question about artificial intelligencearises: can computers think and possess intelligence and mental states just ashumans can? John Searle in his paper “Minds, Brains, and Programs” addresses thisquestion and helps break down the overall philosophical debate about artificialintelligence. One of Searle’s ideas that stood out to me was The Chinese Room.
Searle makes a clear distinction between what he calls “strongartificial Intelligence” and “weak artificial intelligence” to help distinguishwhether computers can actually understand as humans do. However, as I furtherresearched artificial intelligence I found it intriguing that Searle classifiedartificial intelligence as weak or strong. The basic breakdown of any computer is thatthey were programmed by a human to do a certain task or to have a certainoutcome – no matter how fancy that might be – therefore there should be nodistinctions between if it is weak or strong in its programming.
Furthermore,even if, for example, a computer began to think or understand on its own, asSearle says strong artificial intelligence can do, then it still would have initiallybeen programmed to do that in the first place. For example, Siri – from Apple – might becategorized as weak AI while AlphaGo – a computer program that bypasses certainprocess and learns to play the game of Go simply by playing games againstitself might be categorized as strong AI. Consequently, although one might be seen as weakAI and the other seen as strong AI they were both programmed by humans to performtasks. Therefore, the classification of artificial intelligence as weak orstrong seems a bit fuzzy to me. However, I think Searle’s predominant argument about the ChineseRoom is very compelling.
I agree with the fact that even though it may seemlike a computer is communicating easily with humans it is clear they can onlydo this because they were given a certain set of instructions. Overall, the Chineseroom offers a good starting point for thinking about the claims for strong artificialintelligence, but it does not help completely solve the problem.