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When Is A Person A Person?

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Posted by Duane Eddy on May 13, 2003 23:07:23 UTC

Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment summary.
A man or a computer which we will br referred to as the processor is inside a closed room. You do not know for sure if the processor is a man or a machine. There are slots on both sides of the room, one for sending a punch card containing information into the room, and another for the processor to eject a punch card containing information out of the room.
Every once in a while, you put a packet of paper into the input slot. The packet contains two sets of papers: One is written in Chinese, the other in English.
The processor inside the room knows no Chinese. The processor does understand English, and understands this set of papers to be a series of instructions for dealing with the Chinese texts. They describe, for example, how to manipulate Line 1 on Page 1 of the Chinese papers into a certain new arrangement of the symbols. The processor rearranges the symbols in the manner described and then ejects the information through the output slot. The instructions never say more than is necessary for the symbols to be manipulated in a proper manner.
Outside of the room you eagerly await the arrival of the outputs.

What will cause you to determine the processor is a person and not a machine?

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