Today we embarked on a voyage to the centre of the mind!

In particular we read the opening of Searle’s ‘Minds, Brains & Programs’ which seeks to throw some light on the nature of consciousness, understanding and to some extent intentionality by attacking the claims of the proponents of AI (artificial intelligence).

The main thrust of Searle’s argument stems from his description of a thought experiment, ‘The Chinese Room’ in which a non Chinese speaker is apparently able to produce answers to questions about a story written in Chinese by following a code of formal symbols, along the lines of ‘if you see this squiggle then produce this sqoggle.’

Searle’s point is that although someone following such a code could produce the same answers as a Chinese speaker they would have no ‘understanding’ of the story themselves. This is, he claims, all AI ever does. And that to claim AI demonstrates understanding is wrong.