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CptS 440 / 540 Artificial Intelligence - page 18 / 67

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Chinese Room Argument

Imagine you are sitting in a room with a library of rule books, a bunch of blank exercise books, and a lot of writing utensils. Your only contact with the external world is through two slots in the wall labeled ``input'' and ``output''. Occasionally, pieces of paper with Chinese characters come into your room through the ``input'' slot. Each time a piece of paper comes in through the input slot your task is to find the section in the rule books that matches the pattern of Chinese characters on the piece of paper. The rule book will tell you which pattern of characters to inscribe the appropriate pattern on a blank piece of paper. Once you have inscribed the appropriate pattern according to the rule book your task is simply to push it out the output slot.

By the way, you don't understand Chinese, nor are you aware that the symbols that you are manipulating are Chinese symbols.

In fact, the Chinese characters which you have been receiving as input have been questions about a story and the output you have been producing has been the appropriate, perhaps even "insightful," responses to the questions asked. Indeed, to the outside questioners your output has been so good that they are convinced that whoever (or whatever) has been producing the responses to their queries must be a native speaker of, or at least extremely fluent in, Chinese.

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