Quantum linguistics and Searle's Chinese room argument

In V. C. Muller (ed.), Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence. Springer. pp. 17-29 (2011)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Viewed in the light of the remarkable performance of ‘Watson’ - IBMs proprietary artificial intelligence computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language - on the US general knowledge quiz show ‘Jeopardy’, we review two experiments on formal systems - one in the domain of quantum physics, the other involving a pictographic languaging game - whereby behaviour seemingly characteristic of domain understanding is generated by the mere mechanical application of simple rules. By re-examining both experiments in the context of Searle’s Chinese Room Argument, we suggest their results merely endorse Searle’s core intuition: that ‘syntactical manipulation of symbols is not sufficient for semantics’. Although, pace Watson, some artificial intelligence practitioners have suggested that more complex, higher-level operations on formal symbols are required to instantiate understanding in computational systems, we show that even high-level calls to Google translate would not enable a computer qua ‘formal symbol processor’ to understand the language it processes. We thus conclude that even the most recent developments in ‘quantum linguistics’ will not enable computational systems to genuinely understand natural language.
Reprint years
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
First archival date: 2016-10-11
Latest version: 1 (2016-10-11)
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
633 ( #10,752 of 69,141 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
58 ( #13,570 of 69,141 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.