Spring 1991




Master of Arts (MA)

Primary Subject Area

Philosophy; Religion, General; Religion, Philosophy of; Theology


Advocates of strong artificial intelligence believe that properly programmed computers can go beyond the simulation of intelligent acts so as to instantiate and exhibit true intelligence, that is, intelligence equivalent to that of man. In this thesis, I consider three problems for strong-AI.

First, John Searle's well-known thought experiment of the "Chinese Room" is used to reestablish the syntax-semantics distinction and to show how this distinction applies to computer programs. I review the Chinese Room, consider a variety of objections to it, and then expand on the key points in Searle's work.

Second, I examine the Frame Problem in artificial intelligence, a guest ion made popular by Daniel Dennett. Rational agents have the ability to adjust their conceptual schemes and update their noetic web of beliefs so as to maintain a representation of the world. This ability is easily observed but not well understood. I argue that computers lack this ability altogether. The Frame Problem examines this deficiency and programming techniques designed to overcome it.

Third, the Overseer Problem examines the need for artificial systems to have a rational agent in place who designates a given task and determines when that task is successfully completed by the system. I argue that as long as this need exists, artificial systems cannot be considered intelligent in an unequivocal sense.