Sorry if this question makes no sense. I'm a software developer but know very little about AI.
Quite a while ago, I read about the Chinese room, and the person inside who has had a lot of training/instructions how to combine symbols, and, as a result, is very good at combining symbols in a "correct" way, for whatever definition of correct. I said "training/instructions" because, for the purpose of this question, it doesn't really make a difference if the "knowledge" was acquired by parsing many many examples and getting a "feeling" for what's right and what's wrong (AI/learning), or by a very detailed set of instructions (algorithmic).
So, the person responds with perfectly reasonable sentences, without ever understanding Chinese, or the content of its input.
Now, as far as I understand ChatGPT (and I might be completely wrong here), that's exactly what ChatGPT does. It has been trained on a huge corpus of text, and thus has a very good feeling which words go together well and which don't, and, given a sentence, what's the most likely continuation of this sentence. But that doesn't really mean it understands the content of the sentence, it only knows how to chose words based on what it has seen. And because it doesn't really understand any content, it mostly gives answers that are correct, but sometimes it's completely off because it "doesn't really understand Chinese" and doesn't know what it's talking about.
So, my question: is this "juggling of Chinese symbols without understanding their meaning" an adequate explanation of how ChatGPT works, and if not, where's the difference? And if yes, how far is AI from models that can actually understand (for some definition of "understand") textual content?