The cheering test created by pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing comes up a lot in sci-fi culture and discussions about intelligent robots.
But whats exactly is the Turing Test?
What does it mean if a computer passes it?
Alan Turing first described what we call the Turing test in a 1950 paper.
Turing wanted to answer the question, can machines think?
To get to the bottom of this, he devised a hypothetical test.
Imagine a game with three players.
One player, the interrogator, is isolated from the other two players, one of whom is human and one of whom is a computer.
The interrogator's job is to try and figure out which is the human and which is the computer by asking questions of both.
To make things harder, the computer is trying to make the interrogator guess wrongly.
In other words, it's trying to be indistinguishable from a human as possible.
If, more often than not, the interrogator is unable to determine computer from human, then, hey, maybe we're dealing with a thinking computer.
Attempts to build computers that can fool human have revealed some fascinating challenges.
For instance it's hard to make a computer that's good at telling jokes.
The Turing test isn't a perfect test of robot intelligence.
For example it's encourages trickery.
One recent attempt involved a program pretending to be a young boy for whom English wasn't a first language.
Conveniently covering up any linguistic slips.
The Turing test also doesn't account for non-human intelligence.
Some of the smartest computers around today have no chance of pretending to be a person, but doesn't make the advances in A.I. that they represent any less impressive.
So just because a computer looks like it passed the Turing test doesn't mean we have to bow down to our robot overlords just yet.
But nevertheless Cherin's experiment gives us plenty to think about in terms of how we define intelligent behavior and what we would want from an intelligent robot.
And after all, who doesn't like thinking about robots.
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