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4.1 Chinese Room Argument
If a person does not understand chess on the basis of running a chess-playing program, neither does a computer solely on that basis.Professor John Searle describes a thought experiment in which a human, who does not know Chinese, executes steps of a computer program that accepts input queries in Chinese and output answers in Chinese. Imagine yourself locked in a room with a rule book in English telling you to move some counters based on what Chinese symbols you get, and generate a string of Chinese characters as output.Unknown to you, the inputs are questions in Chinese, and the output that you produce are the correct answers. An observer outside the room thinks that you know Chinese perfectly, although you have been answering his questions without understanding a word.Now consider a similar situation where the rule book is a chess program, the inputs are moves of the opponent and the outputs are your moves. Further, let's assume that you did not know how to play chess. To your opponent, you seem to be a formidable player, because you win! If a person does not understand chess on the basis of running a chess-playing program, neither does a computer solely on that basis. The Chinese Room argument shows that just carrying out the steps of a computer program does not guarantee cognition, or intelligence.Let us now discuss the other end of the computation-understanding spectrum: computationally intractable problems. These are problems for which no algorithm exists that can guarantee a solution. Still for some instances of these problems, humans are able to devise specific solutions based on their intelligence. Let us recall the theorems in geometry we studied in high school. Wouldn't it have been really nice if a computer could figure out the proofs for us? In 1920 Kurt Godel proved that such a computer cannot ever be made. Before moving on to this proof, let's illustrate the concept with two examples: the Word Game and the Diophantine Equations.