No More Searle Please

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Wed Jan 18 2006 - 06:09:43 MST

Searle's Chinese Room "argument" was nonsense when it was first
proposed, so it depresses me to see people still talking about it.

Searle played an idiot trick on AI researchers, putting a false claim
into their mouths.

He proposed a computational system implemented on top of another
computational system (Chinese understander implemented on top of English
understander). This is a mind-on-top-of-mind case that has no relevance
whatsoever to either (a) human minds, or (b) an AI implemented on a

In this special, contorted and completely ridiculous case the AI
researcher would say that *if* you could persuade one mind to implement
another one in the way specified, you would simply have created two
conscious systems on top of one physical system. So in this uniquely
meaningless case, Searle wins: the English system (the person) does not
understand Chinese. But this conclusion is not generalisable to the
usual case of an intelligence implemented on a substrate that is *not*
already intelligent. AI researchers never claimed that understanding
would bleed through in the silly case where one intelligence was
implemented on top of another, so Searle dismantled a claim nobody made,
and proved nothing about all the claims that people *have* made.


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