The Chinese Room Revisited

Written by Sam Vaknin

Whole forests have been wasted inrepparttar effort to refuterepparttar 133582 Chinese Room Thought Experiment proposed by Searle in 1980 and refined (really derived from axioms) in 1990. The experiment envisages a room in which an English speaker sits, equipped with a book of instructions in English. Through one window messages in Chinese are passed on to him (inrepparttar 133583 original experiment, two types of messages). He is supposed to followrepparttar 133584 instructions and correlaterepparttar 133585 messages received with other pieces of paper, already inrepparttar 133586 room, also in Chinese. This collage he passes on torepparttar 133587 outside through yet another window. The comparison with a computer is evident. There is input, a processing unit and output. What Searle tried to demonstrate is that there is no need to assume thatrepparttar 133588 central processing unit (the English speaker) understands (or, for that matter, performs any other cognitive or mental function)repparttar 133589 input orrepparttar 133590 output (both in Chinese). Searle generalized and stated that this shows that computers will never be capable of thinking, being conscious, or having other mental states. In his picturesque language "syntax is not a sufficient base for semantics". Consciousness is not reducible to computations. It takes a certain "stuff" (the brain) to get these results.

Objections torepparttar 133591 mode of presentation selected by Searle and torepparttar 133592 conclusions that he derived were almost immediately raised. Searle fought back effectively. But throughout these debates a few points seemed to have escaped most of those involved.

First,repparttar 133593 English speaker insiderepparttar 133594 room himself is a conscious entity, replete and complete with mental states, cognition, awareness and emotional powers. Searle went torepparttar 133595 extent of introducing himself torepparttar 133596 Chinese Room (in his disputation). Whereas Searle would be hard pressed to prove (to himself) thatrepparttar 133597 English speaker inrepparttar 133598 room is possessed of mental states this is notrepparttar 133599 case if he himself were inrepparttar 133600 room. The Cartesian maxim holds: "Cogito, ergo sum". But this argument though valid is not strong. The English speaker (and Searle, for that matter) can easily be replaced inrepparttar 133601 thought experiment by a Turing machine. His functions are recursive and mechanical.

But there is a much more serious objection. Whomever composedrepparttar 133602 book of instructions must have been conscious, possessed of mental states and of cognitive processes. Moreover, he must also have had a perfect understanding of Chinese to have authored it. It must have been an entity capable of thinking, analysing, reasoning, theorizing and predicting inrepparttar 133603 deepest senses ofrepparttar 133604 words. In other words: it must have been intelligent. So, intelligence (we will use it hitherto as a catchphrase forrepparttar 133605 gamut of mental states) was present inrepparttar 133606 Chinese Room. It was present inrepparttar 133607 book of instructions and it was present inrepparttar 133608 selection ofrepparttar 133609 input of Chinese messages and it was present whenrepparttar 133610 results were deciphered and understood. An intelligent someone must have judgedrepparttar 133611 results to have been coherent and "right". An intelligent agent must have fedrepparttar 133612 English speaker withrepparttar 133613 right input. A very intelligent, conscious, being with a multitude of cognitive mental states must have authoredrepparttar 133614 "program" (the book of instructions). Depending onrepparttar 133615 content of correlated inputs and outputs, it is conceivable that this intelligent being was also possessed of emotions or an aesthetic attitude as we know it. Inrepparttar 133616 case of real life computers this would berepparttar 133617 programmer.

But it isrepparttar 133618 computer that Searle is talking about not its programmer, or some other, external source of intelligence. The computer is devoid of intelligence,repparttar 133619 English speaker does not understand Chinese (="Mentalese") notrepparttar 133620 programmer (or who authoredrepparttar 133621 book of instructions). Yet, isrepparttar 133622 SOURCE ofrepparttar 133623 intelligence that important? Shouldn't we emphasizerepparttar 133624 LOCUS (site) ofrepparttar 133625 intelligence, where it is stored and used?

Surely,repparttar 133626 programmer isrepparttar 133627 source of any intelligence that a computer possesses. But is this relevant? Ifrepparttar 133628 computer were to effectively make use ofrepparttar 133629 intelligence bestowed upon it byrepparttar 133630 programmer wouldn't we say that it is intelligent? If tomorrow we will discover that our mental states are induced in us by a supreme intelligence (known to many as God) should we then say that we are devoid of mental states? If we were to discover in a distant future that what we call "our" intelligence is really a clever program run from a galactic computer centre will we then feel less entitled to say that we are intelligent? Will our subjective feelings,repparttar 133631 way that we experience our selves, change inrepparttar 133632 wake of this newly acquired knowledge? Will we no longer feelrepparttar 133633 mental states andrepparttar 133634 intelligence that we used to feel prior to these discoveries? If Searle were to live in that era would he have declared himself devoid of mental, cognitive, emotional and intelligent states just becauserepparttar 133635 source andrepparttar 133636 mechanism of these phenomena have been found out to be external or remote? Obviously, not. Whererepparttar 133637 intelligence emanates from, what is its source, how it is conferred, stored, what arerepparttar 133638 mechanisms of its bestowal are all irrelevant torepparttar 133639 question whether a given entity is intelligent. The only issue relevant is whetherrepparttar 133640 discussed entity is possessed of intelligence, contains intelligence, has intelligent components, stores intelligence and is able to make a dynamic use of it. The locus and its properties (behaviour) matter. If a programmer chose to store intelligence in a computer then he created an intelligent computer. He conferred his intelligence ontorepparttar 133641 computer. Intelligence can be replicated endlessly. There is no quantitative law of conservation of mental states. We teach our youngsters thereby replicating our knowledge and giving them copies of it without "eroding"repparttar 133642 original. We shed tears inrepparttar 133643 movie theatre becauserepparttar 133644 director succeeded to replicate an emotion in us without losing one bit of original emotion captured on celluloid.

The Technology of Law

Written by Sam Vaknin

One can discernrepparttar following relationships betweenrepparttar 133581 Law and Technology:

1. Sometimes technology becomes an inseparable part ofrepparttar 133582 law. In extreme cases, technology itself becomesrepparttar 133583 law. The use of polygraphs, faxes, telephones, video, audio and computers is an integral part of many laws - etched into them. It is not an artificial co-habitation:repparttar 133584 technology is precisely defined inrepparttar 133585 law and forms a CONDITION within it. In other words:repparttar 133586 very spirit and letter ofrepparttar 133587 law is violated (the law is broken) if a certain technology is not employed or not put to correct use. Think about police laboratories, aboutrepparttar 133588 O.J. Simpson case,repparttar 133589 importance of DNA prints in everything from determining fatherhood to exposing murderers. Think aboutrepparttar 133590 admissibility of polygraph tests in a few countries. Think aboutrepparttar 133591 polling of members of boards of directors by phone or fax (explicitly required by law in many countries). Think about assisted suicide by administering painkillers (medicines are by farrepparttar 133592 most sizeable technology in terms of money). Think about security screening by using advances technology (retina imprints, voice recognition). In all these cases,repparttar 133593 use of a specific, well defined, technology is not arbitrarily left torepparttar 133594 judgement of law enforcement agents and courts. It is not a set of options, a menu to choose from. It is an INTEGRAL, crucial part ofrepparttar 133595 law and, in many instances, it ISrepparttar 133596 law itself.

2. Technology itself contains embedded laws of all kinds. Consider internet protocols. These are laws which form part and parcel ofrepparttar 133597 process of decentralized data exchange so central torepparttar 133598 internet. Evenrepparttar 133599 language used byrepparttar 133600 technicians impliesrepparttar 133601 legal origin of these protocols: "handshake", "negotiating", "protocol", "agreement" are all legal terms. Standards, protocols, behavioural codes - whether voluntarily adopted or not - are all form of Law. Thus, internet addresses are allocated by a central authority. Netiquette is enforced universally. Special chips and software prevent render certain content inaccessible. The scientific method (a codex) is part of every technological advance. Microchips incorporate in silicone agreements regarding standards. The law becomes a part ofrepparttar 133602 technology and can be deduced simply by studying it in a process known as "reverse engineering". In stating this, I am making a distinction between lex naturalis and lex populi. All technologies obeyrepparttar 133603 laws of nature - but we, in this discussion, I believe, wish to discuss onlyrepparttar 133604 laws of Man.

3. Technology spurs onrepparttar 133605 law, spawns it, as it were, gives it birth. The reverse process (technology invented to accommodate a law or to facilitate its implementation) is more rare. There are numerous examples. The invention of modern cryptography led torepparttar 133606 formation of a host of governmental institutions and torepparttar 133607 passing of numerous relevant laws. More recently, microchips which censor certain web content led to proposed legislation (to forcibly embed them in all computing appliances). Sophisticated eavesdropping, wiring and tapping technologies led to laws regulating these activities. Distance learning is transformingrepparttar 133608 laws of accreditation of academic institutions. Air transport forced health authorities all overrepparttar 133609 world to revamp their quarantine and epidemiological policies (not to mentionrepparttar 133610 laws related to air travel and aviation). The list is interminable.

Once a law is enacted - which reflectsrepparttar 133611 state ofrepparttar 133612 art technology -repparttar 133613 roles are reversed andrepparttar 133614 law gives a boost to technology. Seat belts and airbags were invented first. The law making seat belts (and, in some countries, airbags) mandatory came (much) later. But oncerepparttar 133615 law was enacted, it fosteredrepparttar 133616 formation of whole industries and technological improvements. The Law, it would seem, legitimizes technologies, transforms them into "mainstream" and, thus, into legitimate and immediate concerns of capitalism and capitalists (big business). Again,repparttar 133617 list is dizzying: antibiotics, rocket technology,repparttar 133618 internet itself (first developed byrepparttar 133619 Pentagon), telecommunications, medical computerized scanning - and numerous other technologies - came into real, widespread being following an interaction withrepparttar 133620 law. I am usingrepparttar 133621 term "interaction" judiciously because there are four types of such encounters between technology andrepparttar 133622 law:

Cont'd on page 2 ==> © 2005
Terms of Use