Friday, July 13, 2012

Intelligent Design Links Epistemology to Ontology (Part 1)

A famous argument against Artificial Intelligence is John Searle's Chinese room argument.  In this argument, a person resides in the room who possesses a perfect ability to translate Chinese character strings to semantically equivalent English character strings.  However, the person himself has no knowledge of Chinese or English.  This argument shows that even observing a presumably intelligence based behavior tells us nothing about whether the responsible agent has intelligence regarding the content of the behavior.  Thus, there is a strict division between the syntax (form) of something and its semantics (meaning).

While a brilliant argument in its own right, it still leaves us with the most important question unanswered, which is, how do I know whether an agent is in fact intelligent?  I don't have any direct insight into the minds of others, the best I can do is infer internal states from external effects.  But, if Dr. Searle's argument is correct, then even if my friends all exhibit behavior I would classify as intelligent, I still have no clue whatsoever whether they are conscious beings or just robots.  I must take a leap of faith to assume that I even have friends, instead of a bunch of fancy mechanical dolls.  Though it is quite disturbing to take this leap of faith, it is rationally unjustified under Ockham's razor.  If in theory intelligent agency is strictly independent from and unnecessary to account for intelligent behavior, then it violates Ockham's razor to infer intelligent agency from intelligent behavior, as the former is unnecessary for the latter.

Thus, even though Dr. Searle's argument has been hailed as a definitive blow against the concept of Artificial Intelligence, it seems an even greater blow against real intelligence.  Due to his argument, we become eternally stuck within a world filled with automatons in which we seem to be the only conscious beings, in other words we become Dwayne Hoover in Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions".

Intelligent Design provides the metaphysical equipment to get us out of this dilemma.  Stay tuned to find out how!

Part 2