When I was in college, I had a lot of computer science and psychology majors as friends and they all seemed starry-eyedly fascinated with (and, I would say, duped by) Alan Turing's famous test designed to test for machine intelligence (or artificial intelligence, as many would call it).
Putting it into the terms of our day, suppose you are in a chat room interacting with someone you've never met and the only way you can communicate is by typing text back and forth. If after a sufficient period time passes and you can't tell that you're interacting with a machine, voila! artificial intelligence!
One argument against the Turing Test is that if such a machine were invented, what's the difference between it and a really good simulation?
Recently, the philosopher John Searle proposed The Chinese Room thought experiment. This short video explains it.
More detail: The argument and thought-experiment now generally known as the Chinese Room Argument was first published in a paper in 1980 by American philosopher John Searle (1932- ). It has become one of the best-known arguments in recent philosophy. Searle imagines himself alone in a room following a computer program for responding to Chinese characters slipped under the door. Searle understands nothing of Chinese, and yet, by following the program for manipulating symbols and numerals just as a computer does, he produces appropriate strings of Chinese characters that fool those outside into thinking there is a Chinese speaker in the room. The narrow conclusion of the argument is that programming a digital computer may make it appear to understand language but does not produce real understanding. Hence the “Turing Test” is inadequate. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. The broader conclusion of the argument is that the theory that human minds are computer-like computational or information processing systems is refuted. Instead minds must result from biological processes; computers can at best simulate these biological processes. Thus the argument has large implications for semantics, philosophy of language and mind, theories of consciousness, computer science and cognitive science generally. As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument. (source)
If your thoughts are just chemical actions, who's causing the chemical actions to make you think?
Chemistry and physics just go along according to the applicable laws. They don't need anyone to make them happen.
Exactly. The brain is self-organizing. Our thoughts are not random actions of chemicals even if "programmed." And, programming which results in language and thought would require an intelligence of equal language and thought to execute it. And so, we're left with conundrum, where did that intelligence come from?
Instead of going down that bong-smoking route, it's much simpler and more elegant to begin with the observation that humans have innate consciousness and intelligence which, for now, is beyond our full understanding. Computers are good analogies of the brain, but the brain is not a computer.
who's causing the chemical actions to make you think?
No single agent is making you think, but your thinking and behavior are still largely determined by your life experience, especially that with other people.
A Calvinist would jump on board with that, essentially saying you are predetermined set of reactions to stimuli. It seems there's much more evidence that the mind both originates and synthesizes thought with self-awareness. Computer programs can't do that.
Predeterminism can't be true because of the interaction with the deterministic gross level with the nondeterministic quantum level. Everything on the gross level is as a result of antecedent events, which usually are other events themselves caused by antecedent events. However, from time to time subatomic events leak into the gross world interrupting and changing the causal chains.
The key word remaining "determined."
Agree, I must.
It's consciousness would consist of thinking its something its not.
Uh oh, your computer's playing a trick on you! Or the keyboard.
On a side note, a few years ago, I was working with a neural net simulator that was part of a handwriting recognition system. The odd thing was, that by giving thencomputer he ability to use fuzzy logic in comparisons, it also became capable or making mistakes.
And it's quite possible that we really are just a machine. One put together by DNA. But a mere machine in reality. It's the theists and dualists who think we are more than this. I think the ball is in their court to show how.
As a determinist, I don't see how we can avoid accepting that everything our brain has us do is due to antecedent conditions, and except in the case of a malfunction, follows inevitably upon those conditions.
Thus, whenever someone denies determinism, well, they had to say that. LOL