Mark Bishop (Goldsmiths College, London)
Trouble with Computation

In 1980 John Searle first published a novel argument, which has become known as the Chinese Room Argument (CRA), that purported to demonstrate that "by itself, syntax is neither constitutive of, nor sufficient for, semantic content." If correct the CRA suggests that programs cannot produce minds. Clearly, the suggestion that syntactic manipulation alone is not sufficient for meaning or thought is significant - not just in the context of Artificial Intelligence (AI) but in the philosophy of mind in general, as many prominent theories hold that the essence of mind is computational. In the 31 years since the CRA was first published the importance of the argument has merited that it has been attacked (and defended) in strong measure. In this presentation I will suggest that the CRA remains the 'elephant in the room' regarding AI and that even recent "cognitive" approaches to building intelligent machines do not escape its grasp; because the "trouble with computation" is that it doesn't take embodiment seriously.