The Chinese Room argument, devised by John Searle, is an argument against the possibility of true artificial intelligence. The argument centers on a thought experiment in which someone who knows only English sits alone in a room following English instructions for manipulating strings of Chinese characters, such that to those outside the room it appears as if someone in the room understands Chinese. The argument is intended to show that while suitably programmed computers may appear to converse in natural language, they are not capable of understanding language, even in principle. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. Searle’s argument is a direct challenge to proponents of Artificial Intelligence, and the argument also has broad implications for functionalist and computational theories of meaning and of mind. As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument.
The ideal of morality has no more dangerous rival than the ideal of supreme strength, of a life of maximum vigor, which has also been called the ideal of aesthetic greatness. That life is in truth the ultimate attainment of the barbarian, and unfortunately in these days of civilization’s withering it has won a great many adherents. In pursuance of this ideal man becomes a hybrid thing, a brute-spirit, whose cruel mentality exerts a horrible spell upon weaklings.
I am no man, I am dynamite.
One thing is needful
One thing is needful.— To “give style” to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added, there a piece of original nature has been removed:—both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed, there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views:—it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small: whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose,—if only it was a single taste!—
from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (section 290, translated by Walter Kaufmann)
Lines On A Spotted Dove
Friday Poem: Lines On A Spotted Dove
The mud that makes a man
molds women into birds,
although we know avians
come from dinosaurs and
humans from a heavenly
jubilation of glad apples.
The spotted dove between
the flowerbed and a melody line
bobs on the grass and scans
in peace for pearl…
It is precisely by means of … modes of knowledge, in a realm beyond the world of the senses, where experience can yield neither guidance nor correction, that our reason carries on these enquiries which owing to their importance we consider to be far more excellent, and in their purpose far more lofty, than all that the understanding can learn in the field of appearances. Indeed we prefer to run every risk of error rather than desist from such urgent enquiries, on the ground of their dubious character, or from disdain and indifference. These unavoidable problems set by pure reason itself are God, freedom, and immortality. The science which, with all its preparations, is in its final intention directed solely to their solution is metaphysics; and its procedure is at first dogmatic, that is, it confidently sets itself to this task without any previous examination of the capacity or incapacity of reason for so great an undertaking.
Critique of Pure Reason - Immanuel Kant, 1781