Minds, Brains and Programs

Back in the early 1950’s, at the beginning of the computer age, Alan Turing devised a test that attempted to give criteria that would allow us to determine whether a machine could (in principle) think. In the 1980’s some researchers in artificial intelligence (AI) began to make claims that their machines were coming very close to passing Turing’s test.

a. Describe the Turing test and explain why passing it is presumed to be relevant to the question of whether a computer can think.

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b. Distinguish between the claims of “strong” and “weak” AI.

c. Describe the situation encountered in Searle’s Chinese room.

d. Explain whether the “system” embodied in the “room” is passing the Turing test. What consequences, according to Searle does this have for the legitimacy of the test?

d. Present at least two the replies (the systems, the robot, the brain simulation or the combinations reply) along with Searle’s rebuttal to it.

e. So according to Searle, is there a kind of machine that can think? Is Searle right about the “causal powers” of the brain being due to the brain being made of the “right stuff” or do you think he is missing something important about thinking?

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