The Chinese Room Argument is a thought-experiment of the philosopher John Searle. It has the goal to show that the machine doesn’t think, but it can only simulate this activity. According to Searle «brains cause minds and syntax doesn’t suffice for semantics».
The person in the room does not know Chinese: he or she operates on symbols following instructions. Similarly a computer system: its activity artificially reproduces human acts, but we cannot speak of properly human acts of understanding, because these acts involve consciousness and intentionality that are irreducible “phenomena” of the human world.