The idea is to test how intelligent a machine is. The basic idea is that if you communicate via a screen, can you tell if you are talking to another human, or to a machine? If you think you are taking to a human, and it is in fact simply a machine, then the machine is deemed to have passed the Turing test.
Here is a quick extract from the Wikipedia page …
The test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which opens with the words: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'” Because “thinking” is difficult to define, Turing chooses to “replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words.” Turing’s new question is: “Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in theimitation game?” This question, Turing believed, is one that can actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that “machines can think”.
In the years since 1950, the test has proven to be both highly influential and widely criticized, and it is an essential concept in the philosophy of artificial intelligence.
The news is that finally it has happened – a machine has passed the Turing test
Sounds impressive … oh but wait, there is something fishy going on here. For example, the UK’s independent reports …
Eugene Goostman, a computer programme made by a team based in Russia, succeeded in a test conducted at the Royal Society in London. It convinced 33 per cent of the judges that it was human, said academics at the University of Reading, which organised the test.
It is thought to be the first computer to pass the iconic test. Though other programmes have claimed successes, those included set topics or questions in advance.
Wait a second, this was a ChatBot, there is no actual AI in the mix here at all, and so that fact alone should set off your bullshit alarm.
“It is Thought … to pass” – by who exactly?
There is in fact a press release … here, and there buried in the text is yet another red flag, a name no less, “Professor Kevin Warwick” … yes, the same guy who stuck a chip in his arm and managed to con a few gullible press reporters into thinking that he was the world’s first Cyborg. (Yes really)
Yes, but the ChatBot Passed
No, it did not, the entire thing is a complete scam, and tells us a great deal about human psychology, but exactly nothing about AI, there is no huge leap forward going on here, so do not be fooled.
They simply put up a ChatBot (yes a normal computer program) that simply pretended to be a 13 year old non-native-English-speaking Ukrainian boy, and so things that would normally tip you off such as weird english, or a lack of normal daily cultural knowledge, could be assumed to be due to it being a foreign kid.
What is impressive about all this is not the passing of the Turing test (which did not happen), but rather that so many have been fooled into thinking that the Turing test had been passed and did not stop to ask themselves a few basic questions about what was actually going on here.
So who got fooled?
Lots of people, and I mean lots …
- The Verge: Computer passes Turing Test for first time by convincing judges it is a 13-year-old boy
- Venture Beat: Talk to the computer that passed the Turing Test, a historic artificial intelligence milestone
- Yahoo Tech: Turing Test Bested, Robot Overlords Creep Closer
- NBC News: Turing Test: Computer Program Convinces Judges It’s Human
- Washington Post: A computer just passed the Turing Test in landmark trial
- The Independent: Turing Test breakthrough as super-computer becomes first to convince us it’s human
- PC World: An AI milestone: Chatbot passes Turing Test by posing as 13-year-old boy
- The Wire: For the First Time Ever, a Computer Passed Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence
- Gizmodo: A Computer Program Has Passed the Turing Test For the First Time
- ZDNet: Computer chatbot ‘Eugene Goostman’ passes the Turing test
- Ars Technica: Eugene—the supercomputer, not 13-year-old—first to beat the Turing Test
- The Guardian: Computer simulating 13-year-old boy becomes first to pass Turing test
- CNET: Computer fools humans, passes Turing Test
- Computerworld: Supercomputer passes Turing Test by posing as a teenager
- Science Alert: Meet the first computer to pass the Turing Test
Turing Test Passed?
One word summary … nope.
There is in fact no actual agreement on what the precise details of an actual Turing Test could be, and where did this 30% rule come from, why 30%, why not 50%, so who gets to decide that? Nobody, and so anybody running such a test can set the bar to anywhere.
The claim that a ChatBot, during a series of five minute-long text conversations, convinced 33% of the contest’s judges that it was human, might indeed sound impressive, but the moment you realise that this pass was done by a program pretending to be a 13 year old non-english speaking kid, you can instantly grasp the realisation that this is a con job. The judges were simply fooled, as was the media, but perhaps those that have been truly fooled are the organisers all this – they believed their own press.