Weak Strong AI: An elaboration of the English Reply to the Chinese Room

Abstract

Searle (1980) constructed the Chinese Room (CR) to argue against what he called \Strong AI": the claim that a computer can understand by virtue of running a program of the right sort. Margaret Boden (1990), in giving the English Reply to the Chinese Room argument, has pointed out that there isunderstanding in the Chinese Room: the understanding required to recognize the symbols, the understanding of English required to read the rulebook, etc. I elaborate on and defend this response to Searle. In particular, I use the insight of the English Reply to contend that Searle's Chinese Room cannot argue against what I call the claim of \Weak Strong AI": there are some cases of understanding that a computer can achieve solely by virtue of that computer running a program. I refute several objections to my defense of the Weak Strong AI thesis.

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Ron Chrisley
University of Sussex

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