Chinese Room - Martin Chu Shui

Although this interesting story is readably told, I didn't enjoy it much. I found the dialog unconvincing and several points overstated.


The title refers to a hypothetical method by which an artificially intelligent machine could convince a human that its intelligence was natural. In the book, robots were indistinguishable from humans because some humans had embedded chips enhancing their abilities. This seems unconvincing to me since it overlooks other ways of telling humans from robots.


I recently re-watched the movie, Blade Runner. Although it was made years ago I still find it convincing despite the cheesy way in which it presents genetic engineering. I had no difficulty believing that Replicants are intelligent engineered beings which exist in the distant future of 2019.


What makes Blade Runner believable is good world building. It's inadequate to simply state that the climate is over-heated and human extinction imminent. A reader must be shown, and not with garden parties that are indistinguishable from those of the present day. Better world building would have improved this book.


A final point: Although the author sometimes gets it right, he sometimes confuses intelligence with consciousness. This is forgivable because some scientific writers have made the same mistake. However, the two are not the same.