David Weinberger comments on The Searle vs. the world of AI controversy.
The discussion is over whether the term 'conscious' (often interpreted as 'intelligent' a word about as well defined as 'living') will ever be applicable to a machine. Searle's view is (simplified) that since we can symbolically reduce any accomplishment of the machine to a mechanical procedure, we can never call the machine intelligent.
This remains the intellectual pyrrhic victory of all time, as I have previously argued. Searly says absolutely nothing about the possible observable capabilities of machines. He merely says that regardless of machine capability he will never accept that capability as a victory for AI.
So suppose all AI researches conceded victory to Searle. They could then continue their work as if nothing had happened. Their arguments for funding would have lost no power. It is still as interesting to construct machines capable of performing the complext tasks only human beings can perform today. And as a bonus they would avoid forever a lot of interesting ethical dilemmas.