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This is probably more of a philosophical debate than General/ComputerScience, but anyway, according to John Searle (1980, “Minds, Brains, and Programs”):

General/StrongAI: the computer is not merely a tool in the study of the mind, rather the appropriately programmed computer really is a mind in the sense that computers given the right programs can be literally said to understand and have other cognitive states.

General/WeakAI: computers just simulate thought, their seeming understanding isn’t real (just as-if) understanding, their seeming calculation as-if calculation, etc.; nevertheless, computer simulation is useful for studying the mind (as for studying the weather and other things).

Searle gives an argument to why General/StrongAI can never be possible with a computer, named General/TheChineseRoom. Opinions have drastically divided, not only about whether General/TheChineseRoom argument is cogent; but, among those who think it is, as to why it is; and, among those who think it is not, as to why not.


Undergraduates and tenured professors can afford to ask “why?”

For all those in between, the relevant question is “how?”

Arguments in “strong AI” => strong whiff of BS

Arguments in “weak AI” => weak whiff of BS

Sorry for the “searle-y” response.