Peirce and formalization of thought: The chinese room argument

Whether human thinking can be formalized and whether machines can think in a human sense are questions that have been addressed by both Peirce and Searle. Peirce came to roughly the same conclusion as Searle, that the digital computer would not be able to perform human thinking or possess human understanding. However, his rationale and Searle's differ on several important points. Searle approaches the problem from the standpoint of traditional analytic philosophy, where the strict separation of syntax and semantics renders understanding impossible for a purely syntactical device. Peirce disagreed with that analysis, but argued that the computer would only be able to achieve algorithmic thinking, which he considered the simplest type. Although their approaches were radically dissimilar, their conclusions were not. I will compare and analyze the arguments of both Peirce and Searle on this issue, and outline some implications of their conclusions for the field of Artificial Intelligence.
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