So, I took up a new course (AI) in my uni and came across these two test $TURING$ $TEST$ and $CHINESE$ $ROOM$ $TEST$. But I am not able to understand is the Chinese room test really accurate? Does it really dis-approve the TURING test?

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    $\begingroup$ No, it doesn't. Please read the articles by Turing and Searle that introduce these tests, they are readily available and easy to read. I'm not sure this question is on topic here. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2019 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


The Turing test and Searle's Chinese Room argument represent two alternative definitions of intelligence.

The Turing test is based on the assumption that intelligence is difficult to formally define but can be easily recognised by behavior. So if a computer program behaves and interacts in a way that is practically indistinguishable from the behavior of human being (who we assume is "intelligent") then, based on this assumption, we should say that the computer program is also intelligent. In the Turing test, the particular behavior that is tested is holding a conversation in natural language.

Searle's Chinese Room argument is a challenge to the validity of the Turing test. It posits a complex system that behaves as if it were intelligent (in this case, holding a conversation in Chinese), but in which each component of the system follows an algorithm, and so no part of the system can be said to "understand" Chinese. The Chinese Room argument is based on the assumption that the system as a whole cannot be said to be intelligent unless some of its individual components are intelligent - it is essentially a reductionist argument.

In summary, the Chinese Room argument says that its is possible for a system to simulate intelligence without actually being intelligent. Whereas the Turing test is says that if a system can simulate intelligence then it actually is intelligent.

We can illustrate the difference between the two points of view with an analogy as follows. The Turing test would say that an aeroplane flies because it travels through the air from one place to another - it exhibits "flying" behavior. The Chinese room argument would say that an aeroplane only simulates flight because it does not flap its wings.

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    $\begingroup$ I fully agree with this summary, except your second sentence. It formulates what I see as a very fundamental (and very common) misunderstanding of Turing's position. Turing does not say intelligence is defined and recognized by behavior. On the contrary: he starts out by saying: let's completely sidestep the issue of defining intelligence, and look at externally observable behavior only. He then asks: is this all we need to do to capture the notion of intelligence? Towards the end of his article, he speculates that this is not the case. Your statement is an insult to his intelligence ... $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2019 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ @reinierpost Wow ! I am sorry that my response upset you so much. I have modified my second sentence. But if you are still not happy with my response then feel free to contribute your own answer. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf61
    Oct 22, 2019 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ That last remark was tongue in cheek ... Thanks, but I still think you misrepresent Turing's position. He carefully avoids making statements such as that intelligence can easily be recognized by behavior, and I don't think he believed that at all - but people who have read about the Turing test without having read his article think he did. Yes, that really annoys me, sorry. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2019 at 14:14

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