The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior. The test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which tried to deal with the question, “Can machines think?
In Turing’s test, a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.
The test does not concern itself with whether answers are “correct” since humans are not always correct but do sound human,
Alan Turing is often called the father of computer science. He became famous for cracking the Nazi’s Enigma machine.
The Turing Test continues to be used to determine a machine’s artificial intelligence. Recently, I read about what was described as “the largest Turing test in history” where the test was almost beaten by a “normal teenager.”
Eugene Goostman is a typical seventh-grader from a middle-class family, a bit awkward and with an odd sense of humor. And that peculiar middle-schooler personality is probably what led to Eugene winning the top prize at the Turing 100 event.
At the event, 29% of respondents thought that the Eugene artificial chat was a real person. You need to fool 30% of the humans to actually pass the test, but 29% is an impressive score. Eugene is the creation of Vladimir Veselov who has entered Eugene in other competitions but this was his first Turing test win.
Then again, would you want your robot to have the personality of a 7th grader? Is one AI problem that we have been expecting our artificially intelligent machines to be grownups?
Final Note: Alan Turing
Turing’s life story has a lousy ending. His homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing worked from 1952 until 1954 on mathematical biology, specifically morphogenesis. But he died in 1954, just after his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning which was judged a suicide.
In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated”.
- Alan Turing: The Enigma
- The Alan Turing Home Page
- A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines examines both Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing who never never met, but had lives that were somewhat parallel – brilliant, mathematical and with tragic ends.