Suppose some super-special Startrek-science device could target a random molecule in your body and delete it. Even in your *spooky music* braaaaaaaaaaaaiiiin. One or two molecules, would that make any practical difference for your life? I don't believe it.
Likewise, a room full of people who follow convoluted instructions that in the aggregate amount to an ability to process and answer a question in Chinese can be thought of as a brain of sorts, even if no single person in it is able to understand the conversation. The room and the people within it as a whole have that particular intelligence, one must suffer from bourgie ultra-individualism to not get that. We don't need to think of some hypothetical room, there are many big projects existing in the real world that are only possible due to intelligent group
activity. Group intelligence exists and it can be a quite distinct phenomenon from individual intelligence (so that describing that as merely thinking faster doesn't properly describe what happens at the group level, as is obvious to children – though not necessarily to philosophy professors).Ah
, you might say, this is not sufficient as a rebuttal, since the original Chinese-room argument is about a single person following rules without understanding Chinese…
But this is false. It just isn't synchronous group work. Somebody designed the things that the person in the room works with in order to answer. To say that the Chinese room
(meaning the person and the human-made tools together) can't answer in Chinese in that story would be wrong, it is established in the story that it happens. And to claim in protest against my assertion that the room gets Chinese that this or that element of the Chinese room doesn't understand and so the room can't understand
amounts to saying that you can't truly be aware of this or that because not every molecule in your brain is aware of that, or that a rock band can't be the creators of a song because no individual in the band knows how to play each instrument the band plays in the song, etc.