Judges Fail Turing Test

In the world of artificial intelligence there is the Turing test. The Turing test was a mechanism developed by Alan Turing see if a machine exhibits intelligence indistinguishable from a human’s. Administration of the test is performed by a human who has access to a terminal that allows him to ask another entity, whom he cannot see, questions. If the administrators cannot determine whether he’s conversing with a human or a machine the machine is said to pass the Turing test.

A couple of days ago the media was abuzz with news that a machine has finally passed the Turing test:

Eugene Goostman seems like a typical 13-year-old Ukrainian boy — at least, that’s what a third of judges at a Turing Test competition this Saturday thought. Goostman says that he likes hamburgers and candy and that his father is a gynecologist, but it’s all a lie. This boy is a program created by computer engineers led by Russian Vladimir Veselov and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko.

That a third of judges were convinced that Goostman was a human is significant — at least 30 percent of judges must be swayed for a computer to pass the famous Turing Test. The test, created by legendary computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950, was designed to answer the question “Can machines think?” and is a well-known staple of artificial intelligence studies.

The problem with the Turing test is that it depends on the intelligence of both the machine and the administrator. So one could easily say that a machine that passes the Turing test was the result of the judge or judges failing the Turing test. Considering that only one third of the judges were convinced that the machine was human I would say it’s more apt to say that one third of the judges failed the Turing test.

Basing a test meant to detect intelligence on the abilities of a handful of individuals is, in my opinion, a poor method of deciding intelligence. Such a test is going to be extremely subjective. As this test demonstrates some humans are more easily fooled than others.

My thoughts regarding the Turing test aside I still think it’s neat that somebody built a chatbot that actually convinced one third of judges that it was human. That’s no small feat assuming the judges have a background in computer science or psychology.