Turning Test of Machine Intelligence

In our meeting last night, we discussed how machines may surpass human intelligence in our lifetimes based upon projections using Moore’s Law.  This raises the question of how to measure machine intelligence and compare it with human intelligence.  Just exactly what is Artificial Intelligence and how it compares to Human Intelligence is a huge debate.

There are various benchmarks at levels (1) low (number of human neurons vs machine equivalent logic circuits), high (machines beating the best humans at cognitive challenges like chess (Big Blue 1996-97) or Jeopardy (Watson 2011)) and everything in between (driving a car or passing a Turing Test).


The Turning Test is interesting because of it’s simplicity:  if a machine can chat online and fool humans into thinking it is human then it has passed the Turning Test.  Eliza was perhaps the first popular software program to bring the Turning Test to popular culture in the 1980s.  Eliza is designed to mimic a psychologist from the Rogerian school of therapy which involves constant redirecting questions at the patient – chat with Eliza on the web.


Several decades later, there are a number of online chat bots like CleverBot and JabberWacky that make failed attempts at passing the Turning Test but clearly fall into the Uncanny Valley  – a noman’s land between realistic and obviously false simulation.


Speaking of Alan Turing, there is a promising moving coming out about his efforts to develop one of the first programmable digital computers in WWII to help break the secret NAZI’s enigma code.  In fact, the code was broken by cryptographers in Bletchley Park which was one of the greatest secret weapons the Allies had over the Axis in WWII.  Here is a clip of the movie:

And here is a short introduction to Alan Turing.  It’s a bit Hollywoodish in how it elevates the individual narrative and adds many ahistorical bits for dramatic effect and marketing reach, but it is a study in the mythical rare lone wolf and tortured genius.


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