Our Shared Condition

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Philosopher John Searle lays out the case for studying human consciousness — and systematically shoots down some of the common objections to taking it seriously. As we learn more about the brain processes that cause awareness, accepting that consciousness is a biological phenomenon is an important first step. And no, he says, consciousness is not a massive computer simulation.

John Searle

American philosopher John Serle has made countless contributions to contemporary thinking about consciousness, language, artificial intelligence and rationality itself. In his early work, he focused on the nature of language and what we are conveying when we speak and how the intention behind what we intend to say can the meaning of words from context to context. He is best known for his “Chinese Room” thought experiment, which challenges the notion of a truly intelligent artificial intelligence. In it, he imagines a room containing an individual, who speaks only English, working with a set of English instructions to write a series of Chinese characters in order to anonymously communicate with a Chinese speaker outside the room.

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