CPSC 415 - Artificial Intelligence - Fall 2023

Responsive Reading #1 — The Classics

Possible experience: +20XP

Due: Friday, Sep. 8th, midnight


In 1950, computer science patriarch Alan Turing published an immortal paper which established what thereafter became enshrined as "the Turing Test." It has forever after been one of the most ingenious, controversial, and thought-provoking statements about how "an intelligent machine" might really be defined.

Three decades later, philosopher John Searle wrote a devastating piece in which he coined the now ubiquitous terms "weak AI" and "strong AI," pulling no punches in pummelling the latter. His famous "Chinese Room argument" has been critiqued and defended from all quarters of the cognitive science establishment ever since. Any defender of strong AI must come to terms with it.

Your mission is to engage these two monumental works in the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence and to articulate your analysis of them.

[1] A. M. Turing, "Computing machinery and intelligence," Mind, vol. 59, no. 236, pp. 433—460, 1950.

[2] J. R. Searle, "Minds, brains, and programs," Behavioral and brain sciences, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 417—424, 1980.


Read both of these papers carefully and (dare I say) intelligently. Then, compose a 1-2 page (single-spaced) response paper in which you summarize them, compare and contrast them, and give your principled reactions to the arguments they contain. Support your opinions with detail and concrete examples, and demonstrate that you understand the authors' claims and the evidence they use to back them up.

Note very carefully that I am asking for a summary of each paper (and your reaction to it), not a play-by-play. Click here to verify you know the difference. If your submission contains play-by-plays instead of summaries, it will be promptly returned for you to try again.


This isn't a writing intensive course, and this isn't an assignment which you will revise and resubmit in response to my feedback. That said, I expect to see a mature analysis of the ideas and evidence that you understood them and thoughtfully considered them. I also expect to see writing that looks like it came from a college student, not a high school or middle school student. It should be grammatically correct, well-structured, and a pleasure to read.

Can I go to the Speaking and Writing Center for help?


Should I go to the Speaking and Writing Center for help?

If you're asking this question, the answer is probably yes.

Can I use an AI assistant, like ChatGPT, to help me write this?

Yes, provided that you do the following:

To be clear, if you turn in a hardcopy of your final draft, but do not send me an email as described, you are implicitly declaring that you wrote your paper by yourself, without using an AI assistant.

Turning it in

Stick your stapled (if multiple pages) response paper, with your name on it, in the "415" manilla envelope hanging outside my office door by the deadline. (I will not accept electronic copies, nor unstapled copies.) Also, if you used an AI assistant, send me a single PDF file as described above.

Getting help

If you're having trouble understanding the articles, or would like to discuss them with me, come to office hours, or send me email with subject line "CPSC 415 Responsive Reading #1 help!!"