I came across this question about Chinese Room argument. I was reading a book where the author tries a different way to disprove CR argument. My point is the question:

Does the Chinese room argument hold? Can we argue that artificial intelligence is merely clever algorithmics?

can generate opinionated answers based on the field one is expert in. A mathematician might treat the problem in a different way compared to a neurobio/psychology person. Should such questions remain open?


2 Answers 2


Should such questions remain open?

Yes. The CR argument is probably the most famous argument in the philosophy of artificial intelligence. It's about the meaning of intelligence, imitation and understanding. The typical bad answer to this question is one where someone just says "yes" or "no" without providing a rational explanation or considering previous debates, discussions, and philosophical positions on the topic.

In general, philosophical questions related to AI are on-topic on our site, as our on-topic page explicitly says.

Questions that are considered opinion-based are e.g.

  • Which book do you think is the best (for task X)?
  • Do you think that AI will take over the world?

All questions that ask explicitly for opinions (e.g. that start like "What do you think..."?), rather than for an objective answer, are opinion-based, and you should flag them to be closed as such.

Sometimes, certain opinion-based questions can be rephrased. For example, the question "What is the best tool to solve task X given constraints Y?" could be rephrased as "What are some available tools to solve...?", which would be more acceptable.

The question above "Do you think that AI will take over the world?" could also be "saved", if rephrased differently. For example, we could ask instead

What are the existing arguments of real philosophers about the topic 'AI takeover'? Why do they think it will happen or not?

These questions can lead to more useful answers, where users will need to refer to existing philosophical work rather than providing their own opinion based on their possibly wrong intuition. (Btw, I don't think this question has already been asked, so feel free to ask it!)

As a rule of thumb, avoid term/expressions such as

  • Do you think...?
  • What is the best...?
  • Do you like...?
  • $\begingroup$ The tone of the question is a little bit off and it seems as if OP is asking for a definite objective answer. $\endgroup$
    – user9947
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @DuttaA It's true that it could have been phrased differently. Maybe next time we should try to rephrase these questions so that they can be answered more objectively. $\endgroup$
    – nbro
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:20

My take is that it's a philosophical question, and all philosophy outside of formal logic is essentially opinion, just that those opinions have to be well founded and well argued. (i.e. without logical falacies.)

This particular question yielded several solid answers that make the point that the Chinese Room Argument is highly subjective, and assumes some special quality of human cognition (which has not yet been proved, only speculated on.)


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