On Sat, Feb 4, 2012 at Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

> You don't understand Searle's thought experiment.

I understand it one hell of a lot better than Searle did, but that's not
really much of a boast.

> The whole point is to reveal the absurdity of taking understanding for
> granted in data manipulation processes.

And Searle takes it for granted that if the little man doing a trivial task
does not understand Chinese then Chinese is not understood, and that
assumption simply is not bright.

> None of the descriptions of the argument I find online make any mention
> of infinite books, paper, or ink.

Just how big do you think a book would need to be to contain every possible
question and every possible answer to those questions?

> All I find is a clear and simple experiment:

Yes simple, as in stupid.

> 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 general.

OK fine, the man does not understand Chinese, so what? How does that prove
that understanding was not involved in the room/outside-people
conversation? You maintain that only humans can have understanding while I
maintain that other things can have it too. To determine which of us is
correct Searle sets up a cosmically impractical and complex thought
experiment in which a human is a trivial part. Searle says that if
understanding exists anywhere it must be concentrated in the human and
nowhere else, but the little man does not understand Chinese so Searle
concludes that understanding is not involved. What makes Searle such an
idiot is that determining if humans are the only thing that can have
understanding or not is the entire point of the thought experiment, he's
assuming the very thing he's trying to prove. If Siri or Watson had behaved
as stupidly as Searle did their programers would hang their heads in shame!

> Makes sense to me.

I know, that's the problem.

> We know for a fact that human consciousness is associated with human
> brains

That should be "with a human brain" not "with human brains"; you only know
for a fact that one human brain is conscious, your own.

> but we do not have much reason to suspect the rooms can become conscious

Because up to now rooms have not behaved very intelligently, but the room
containing the Watson supercomputer is getting close.

> Organization of the brain does not make the difference between being
> awake and being unconscious.

Don't be ridiculous! Take a sleeping pill and your brain organization, its
chemistry, changes and your consciousness goes away; take a pep pill and
the organization reverses itself and your consciousness comes back.

> Organization is certainly important, but only if it arises organically.

Electricity is not organic but it will change your organization and
dramatically change your consciousness if that electricity is applied to
your brain, or any other part of your body for that matter.

> Organization imposed from the outside doesn't cause that organization to
> become internalized as awareness.

So the light entering your eye and other inputs from your senses about the
outside world has no effect on your awareness. How unfortunate for you,
your nose must be sore by now from walking into so many walls that you were
not aware of.

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

Good heavens, do you really expect to understand the nature of reality by
studying the legal system?!

  John K Clark

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