I started to read a novel entitled "Marker" by Robin Cook. In the first chapter, he describes the sperm traveling to the fertilization of an ovum using the following adjectives or phrases:
like a group of anxious marathoners, relegating the others to short and frustrating futile lives, were lost in a form of self-sacrifice, the next ordeal for these living entities, unlucky casualties, the sperm's Holy Grail, goaded by irresistible chemical attraction, hapless haploid egg, frantically. This set me to thinking about The Chinese Room, consciousness and our tendency to anthropomorphize everything in sight.
Writers of novels want to write in a colorful way in order to entice the interest of the reader. That's fine, but it also reminds me that we have a natural(?) tendency to imagine things have a self awareness and consciousness that they clearly don't have. Obviously, sperm cells don't get "frustrated" or "frantic" when faced with an "ordeal" or "self-sacrifice." One might simply chalk it up to poetic license and have done with it, except that we all have some of this tendency and it contributes to our fallibility. For example, we attribute emotions like "happiness" to a bird twittering in a tree on a beautiful spring day. We attribute a playful mood to squirrels chasing one another. Actually, we have no notion about whether or not animals feel these emotions under such circumstances. All we know is what we would feel if we acted in an analogous way. I think this is part of the mental machinery we use to predict the behavior of other humans. The philosopher Daniel Dennett writes about this ability to predict the behavior of others as a survival characteristic that has influenced the genetic wiring of the brain.
When Turing said that if a machine in a black-box responds in a fashion that would lead us to believe there's a human in the box, then the machine in the box is intelligent, he was really saying something about our limitations. We observe behavior of either black boxes or humans and are still incapable of determining whether they feel what we feel, perceive what we perceive, or know what we know in the same way we do in our own minds. It is only because we see humans as biologically the same as ourselves that makes us fairly certain that they are intelligent in the same way that we are. It is in our nature to make that assumption in order to make others actions appear predictable and rational. We have little control over that tendency. The proof is our need to anthropomorphize in the way that Robin Cook does. The more physically similar a creature is to a human, the more we credit it with "intelligence" until it's action proves otherwise. Perhaps this is why men see women as irrational rather than simply different. Perhaps this is why L-minds and C-minds see each other as irrational. It's no surprise to me that people like Searle will not be satisfied that a machine can be intelligent. Since intelligence can only be surmised from observtion of action, it's a totally optional label. It's in the eye of the beholder.