On Feb 4, 1:13 pm, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 4, 2012  Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> I hope you're not talking about Searle's Chinese room, the stupidest
> >> thought experiment in history.
> > > I don't see what is stupid about that thought experiment.
> And that tells us a great deal about you.
> > > Please explain exactly what you mean.
> You already know about Searle's room, now I want to tell you about Clark's
> Chinese Room. You are a professor of Chinese Literature and are in a room
> with me and the great Chinese Philosopher and Poet Laotse. Laotse writes
> something in his native language on a paper and hands it to me. I walk 10
> feet and give it to you. You read the paper and are impressed with the
> wisdom of the message and the beauty of its language. Now I tell you that I
> don't know a word of Chinese, can you find any deep implications from that
> fact? I believe Clark's Chinese Room is just as profound as Searle's
> Chinese Room. Not very.

You don't understand Searle's thought experiment. The whole point is
to reveal the absurdity of taking understanding for granted in data
manipulation processes. Since you take it for granted from the
beginning, it seems stupid to you.

> All Searle did was come up with a wildly impractical model (the Chinese
> Room) of an intelligence in which a human being happens to play a trivial
> part. Consider what's in Searle's model:
> 1) An incredible book, larger than the observable universe even if the
> writing was microfilm sized.
> 2) An equally large or larger book of blank paper.
> 3) A pen, several trillion galaxies of ink, and oh yes I almost forgot,
> your little man.

Is there an original document you are getting this from? None of the
descriptions of the argument I find online make any mention of
infinite books, paper, or ink. All I find is a clear and simple
experiment: A man sits in a locked room and receives notes in Chinese
through a slot. He has a rule book (size is irrelevant and not
mentioned) with which contains instructions for what to do in response
to receiving these Characters. The fact that he can use the book to
make the people outside think they are carrying on a conversation with
them in Chinese reveals that it is only necessary for the man to be
trained to use the book, not to understand Chinese or communication in

Makes sense to me. The refutations I've read aren't persuasive. They
have to do with claiming that the room as a whole is intelligent or
that neurons cannot be intelligent either, etc.

> Searle claims to have proven something profound when he shows that a
> trivial part does not have all the properties that the whole system does.

The whole point is to show that in an AI system, the machine is the
trivial part of a system which invariably includes a human user to
understand anything.

> In his example the man could be replaced with a simple machine made with a
> few vacuum tubes or even mechanical relays, and it would do a better job.

No because he's trying to bring it to a human level so there is no
silly speculation about whether vacuum tubes can understand anything
or not.

> It's like saying the synaptic transmitter dopamine does not understand how
> to solve differential equations, dopamine is a small part of the human
> brain thus the human brain does not understand how to solve differential
> equations.

The human brain doesn't understand, any more than the baseball diamond
plays baseball. The diamond and the experiences shown through the
playing of the game are two aspects of a single whole.

> Yes, it does seem strange that consciousness is somehow hanging around the
> room as a whole, even if slowed down by a factor of a billion trillion or
> so, but no stranger than the fact that consciousness is hanging around 3
> pounds of gray goo in our head,

We know for a fact that human consciousness is associated with human
brains, but we do not have much reason to suspect the rooms can become
conscious (Amityville notwithstanding).

> and yet we know that it does. It's time to
> just face the fact that consciousness is what matter does when it is
> organized in certain complex ways.

Not at all. Organization of the brain does not make the difference
between being awake and being unconscious. Organization is certainly
important, but only if it arises organically. Organization imposed
from the outside doesn't cause that organization to become
internalized as awareness.

> > > I understand why an audioanimatronic pirate at Disneyland feels nothing.
> That is incorrect, you don't understand. I agree it probably feels nothing
> but unlike you I can logically explain exactly why I have that opinion and
> I don't need semantic batteries or flux capacitors or dilithhium crystals
> or any other new age bilge to do so.

Yes, I've heard you logical explanation..."because it doesn't behave
intelligently". It's circular reasoning. My understanding is not
predicated on a schema of literal rules. Yours isn't either but you
want to think of it that way. I know robots feel nothing because I
understand what they are and how they work, regardless of the

> > > No. Computers have never learned anything.
> I could give examples dating back to the 1950's that computers can indeed
> learn but there would be no point in me doing  so, you would say it didn't
> "really" learn it "just" behaved like it learned,


> and Einstein wasn't
> "really" smart he "just" behaved like he was smart,


> and the guy who filed a
> complaint with the police that somebody stole his cocaine was not "really"
> stupid he "just" behaved stupidly.
> **

Fallacies. These have nothing to do with understanding the nature of
intelligence or awareness. Your just throwing verbal turds at me.

> > >>  Machines are made of atoms just like you and me.
> > > And atoms are unconscious, are they not?
> Atoms don't behave intelligently so my very very strong hunch is that they
> are not conscious, but there is no way I can know for certain. On the other
> hand you are even more posative than I about this matter and as  always
> happens whenever somebody is absolutely positively 100% certain about
> anything they can almost never produce any logical reason for their belief.
> There seems to be a inverse relationship, the stronger the belief the
> weaker the evidence.

I'm not 100% certain about it. I clearly see the possibility is all.

> >>  One binary logic operation is pretty straightforward but 20,000
> >> trillion of them every second is not, *and that's what today's
> >> supercomputers can do, and they are doubling in power every 18 months.
> > > You could stop the program at any given point and understand every
> >> thread of every process.
> Yes, you can understand ANY thread but you cannot understand EVERY thread.
> And that 20,000 trillion a second figure that I used was really a big
> understatement, it's the number of floating point operations (FLOPS) not
> the far simpler binary operations. A typical man on the street might take
> the better part of one minute to do one flop with pencil and paper, and
> today's  supercomputers can do 20,000 million million a second and they
> double in power every 18 months.
> **

Complexity and quantity are the mystical hobgoblins of mechanism.
Anything can be hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of computational

> > >They come out of comas and communicate with other human beings
> You think the noises coming out of ex-coma patient's mouths give us
> profound insight into their inner life, but noises produced by Siri tell us
> absolutely nothing, why the difference? Because Siri is not squishy and
> does not smell bad. I don't think your philosophy is one bit more
> sophisticated than that.

Yet if someone pulls the plug on a coma patient, they can go to
prison, but iPhones can be disposed of at will.


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