Turing's test, Searle's Chinese room argument, and thinking machines.

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Jackson, P.
Artificial intelligence
Thinking machines
Turing test
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Peer-reviewed status
Working Paper
This paper deals with the debate on artificial intelligence (AI) thinking machines. In particular, it asks the question, 'Do AI machines think as we humans do?' The main thrust of this paper is philosophical and does not directly deal with technological platforms for AI. After a brief history of AI, there follows a discussion on the work of Alan Turing, in particular that on his logical computing machine (LCM), his thesis (also Church's), his paper in Mind, covering the 'Imitation Game', and the Turing test, which arose out of it. Turing is seen as the founder of the strong AI hypothesis (machines can think). The work of John Searle is then covered as it relates to this debate. Under particular discussion are Searle's Chinese Room experiment (CRE) and the Chinese Room argument (CRA) that arose from it, in which he attempts to refute the strong AI viewpoint and provide support for his alternative weak AI hypothesis (machines cannot think). The consideration of Searle's work leads to a discussion of issues critical to Searle's view, that of syntax versus semantics, and of intentionality. After a comment on artificial neural networks (ANNs) as a potential technological platform for thinking machines, there follows a discussion on the relationship between AI, thinking and consciousness, in an attempt to clarify what is meant by these terms in relation to the debate addressed here. Finally, a summary is made and tentative conclusions are reached, in which the following views are offered: - The strong AI position is invalid, at least for von Neumann-type machines. However, the weak AI position is valid in so far as such machines can, and currently do, emulate human thinking. - While ANNs provide a potential technological platform for thinking machines, the technology is too nascent as yet. - If truly thinking machines ever do become a reality, their existence will raise a number of challenges, such as our ethical responsibility toward them (as sentient entities) and the threat to us as a species that they might represent.
Jackson, P. (2005). Turing's test, Searle's Chinese room argument, and thinking machines (Working Papers No. 2-05). Lower Hutt, New Zealand: The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.