The Chinese room thought experiment concludes computers could never have human-like intelligence because they are purely syntactic devices. They manipulate symbols and do nothing else. And symbols in themselves say nothing about what they mean. Hence the machine could never understand what it receives, for instance from sensors. It could never know its environment. It could never understand language.
I argue for the following:
- The Chinese room is an incomplete picture of the electronic digital computer.
- The ontology of the room lacks an important object type that is instantiated in computers.
- When objects of this missing type are added to the room, it is no longer a purely syntactic system.
- The symbols in the room (which are purely syntactic) can combine with objects of this added type to yield a semantics.