Incidentally this image was AI generated via keyword prompts in about 5 seconds.

The Chinese Room Experiment

Of Simulations, Strong and weak AIs

Keno Leon
5 min readSep 15, 2022

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The Chinese room is an Artificial Intelligence thought experiment that helps frame one of the most thorny issues in AI which to some boils down to can we recreate the human mind in software ?”

It is also a good place to talk about the distinction between Strong and Weak AIs, but first let’s go over the experiment…

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The specific experiment is somehow outdated but goes like this, the setup consists of an AI inside a room that accepts Chinese characters as input and produces coherent output in the form of relevant Chinese characters thus convincing someone on the outside that there is a Chinese speaking person inside the room:

I say it is outdated because passing the Turing Test (ie. Can a computer fool a human into thinking it is another human) which the above AI in the room passes hypothetically, has been done successfully in real life, here's a somehow famous (in AI circles) example from Google's duplex successfully making a dinner reservation

Continuing with the experiment it is supposed that if a computer program is a set of instructions then those instructions could be printed out and given to a human to replace the AI, this human would also successfully convince an outside observer that he/she/them is fluent in Chinese even though they might not know a word of the language :

How is this relevant to AI’s and/or having a mind you ask ? Well the crux of the matter is that neither the AI nor the non Chinese speaking person understands/speaks Chinese yet gives the impression it does by following a set of instructions, so a…

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