The Turing Test: An Overview
In this essay, I describe in detail a hypothetical test contemporarily known as the Turing test along with it’s respective objective. In addition, I examine a distinguished objection to the test, and Turing’s consequential response to it.
Created by English mathematician Alan Turing, the Turing test (formerly known as the imitation game) is a behavioral approach that assesses a system’s ability to think. In doing so, it can determine whether or not that system is intelligent. This experiment initiated what is now commonly known as artificial intelligence.
In Turing’s test, an isolated interrogator attempts to distinguish the identities between discreet human and computer subjects based upon their replies to a series of questions asked during the interrogation process. Questions are generally generated through the use of a keyboard and screen, thus communication can only be made through text-only channels. For example, a sample question would contain something along the lines of “What did you think about the weather this morning?” and adequate responses could include, “I do tend to like a nice foggy morning, as it adds a certain mystery” or rather “Not the best, expecting pirates to come out of the fog” or even “The weather is not nice at the moment, unless you like fog”. After a series of tests are performed, if the interrogator fails at identifying the subject more than 70 percent of the time, that subject is deemed intelligent. Simply put, the interrogator’s ability to declare the machine’s capability of intelligence directly correlates to the interrogator’s inability to distinguish between the two subjects.
There are many objections to Turing’s theory. The most notable objection involves what is known as the “Chinese Room” argument, created by American scientist John Searle. The argument attempts to refute the validity of the Turing Test. In other words, while Turing believed a computer system encompassed the capacity to fool humans into believing it was human, Searle refutes, proposing that computers lack any consciousness to do perform such task.
Searle’s Chinese Room goes as follows: Searle describes the imagination of a non-Chinese-speaking person being supplied, in its native language, instructions on how to translate Chinese symbols into a comprehensible language in order to answer questions written in...