Sunday, August 06, 2006

Chinese room thought experiment


I'm sitting on the floor of our tiny downstairs bathroom, trying to change John's diaper, when a small slip of paper slides underneath the door. It's a 3"x3" piece of paper with purple crayon scribblings. I look at the paper, turn it over, fold it in half, and slide it back. There's a slight delay that allows me to finish clothing the baby.

Again, a piece of paper appears under the door. This one has red scribbles. I ask a question, but no one replies. I slide it back unchanged and hear a giggle on the other side of the door.

And people say that thought experiments have no application in real life.

Though it felt very much like I was trapped inside John Searle's Chinese room, I don't want to push the analogy. I don't have any set of instructions for responding to toddler scribbles. That, and I'd rather feign understanding of my daughter.

In the stage of incoherent babble and gestures, pretending to know what she means is infinitely more rewarding and amusing.

4 Comments:

Blogger Old Man Rich said...

yup, turn and fold purple scribble. Dont change red scribble. Add yellow scribble to green scribble. And if you get blue scribble DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

Give her a little notepad. My kids love them, even Bob. His is full of scribbles...

11:46 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Have you checked your walls lately? My son's scribbling designed a big beautiful nlue flower on the wall above his bed.

5:01 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

I can't wait to get to that stage. Actually, at this point I can't wait to just get this child out of me. Glad things are going well!

6:22 AM  

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