The following is my restatement of Searle's rejoinder to System Reply to his Chinese Room argument
Let's try this theoretical thought exercise. You memorize a whole bunch of shapes. Then, you memorize the order the shapes are supposed to go in, so that if you see a bunch of shapes in a certain order, you would "answer" by picking a bunch of shapes in another proper order. Now, did you just learn any meaning behind any language? Programs manipulate symbols this way.