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What Is The Turing Test, And Why Is It So Difficult To Pass?

2188 words - 9 pages

One of the most difficult challenges in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to create a machine that “thinks” as intelligently as humans do. However, devising a definition for the word “think” itself is quite a task. This is because it is yet unclear as to what comprises a human being’s thoughts, and what is the driving force behind his/her intelligence. Is it a manifestation of the immortal soul or is it just a complex network of nerves comprising the nervous system? To create an intelligent machine or a computer, it is necessary to grant it with thinking capabilities that are at par with humans. If such an intelligent machine is ever created, how can we test whether it can think on its own? How can it be certified as Artificial Intelligence?
Alan Mathison Turing, a computer analyst, mathematician and cryptoanalyst, provided a simple solution to this problem. In a paper published in the Journal Mind, in 1950, Turing suggests that rather than creating complications by using the word “think”, defining it, or asking whether machines can “think”, it is easier to develop a task that requires thinking, and testing whether a machine can succeed in that task. In Turing’s own words, “Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words” (Turing, 1950, p. 433). These “unambiguous words” were in fact the “imitation game”, now known as “Turing’s Test”. This test suggested by Turing has been used ever since to test artificial intelligence. In spite of the technological advancements since the Turing test was first published, no machine has yet passed the test. Turing’s paper has been a frontrunner in all publications and research material on Artificial Intelligence, and has been cited in innumerable publications since the moment of its inception.
What is the Turing Test?
The Turing Test was suggested by Alan M. Turing while he was employed at the Computing Laboratory in Manchester University (“The Alan Turing Internet Scrapbook”). Turing put forth the idea that machines could be devised to think and be capable of “rivaling human intelligence”. He writes:
The original question, "Can machines think?" I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion. Nevertheless I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted (p. 440).
This idea was revolutionary and contrary to the popular notions and beliefs of his time (“The Alan Turing Internet Scrapbook”). Turing suggested an imitation game that could be used to test whether a computer is as intelligent as a human being. The directions of the game are as follows:
A human and a machine, labeled ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are placed in separate rooms. Another human, who is the judge/interrogator/observer, is placed in another room and is unaware of who is in...

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