John Searle
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Rene Descartes
Gilbert Ryle
William Lycan
John Searle
Group Project #2


Strong AI is (according to Searle) the following three theses conjoined:

I. Mind as Program -- "Minds" are simply very complex computer programs. Any system which had the right program, and the right input and output would have mental processes just like us.

II. The Irrelevance of the Neurophysiology of the Brain -- While the brain is necessary for you and I to think, it is not necessary for "thinking" per se. If the mind is just a program, then if some entity without a brain could nonetheless "run" that program, it could think. The brain is just one kind of thing that can run the right program.

III. The Turing Test Criterion of the Mental -- "If a system can convince a competent expert that it has mental states then it really has those mental states."

Here is Searle's argument in a nutshell:

1. Brain processes cause mental phenomena. (statement of fact)

2. Any system that produces mental phenomena must have powers equivalent to those of the brain. (inference from 1)

3. Digital computer programs by themselves are never sufficient to produce mental phenomena. (Chinese Room analogy.


4. Therefore, the brain does not produce mental phenomena simply by instantiating some digital computer program.



1. Defenders of Strong AI miss distinction between simulation and duplication (i.e. computers can simulate a tornado, thirst, etc., but that's different from duplicating it.)

2. Computers have syntax but no semantics -- they know how to organize and manipulate symbols, but they CANNOT attach meaning to those symbols.