Re: Turing Test

From: Dearns, Rachel (
Date: Sat May 25 1996 - 14:33:24 BST


The Turing Test is basically a critical test of whether or not a computer has
equal intelligence to a human. The test proposes the situation of having a
person in one room and a computer in another, both could be communicated with
in a similar way to communicating with a penpal. The communication could be
about anything, for any length of time, and the test states that it would be
impossible to tell which of the participants was the human, and which was the
machine. This being the case, the conclusion of this test is that if you can't
tell the difference between the two participants after the communication then
you cannot say that a machine does not have a mind. Turing, who suggested the
test, stated that a person communicating with the computer would never even
suspect that the other two participants were not both people - and if you
subsequently found out it would be arbitrary to deny that the candidate was
intelligent simply because you had been informed that it was a computer. It is
important to note that the computer is kept out of site in the Turing test so
that the judgement made would not be biased by what the machine looked like (ie.
that it did not look like a human.) However no Turing test can guarantee that
a body has a mind. Nothing of the explanation of its successful use requires
that the model involved needs to have a mind at all. Also, this original
'penpal' version of the Turing test only tests linguistic capacity.

In summary the Turing test states in some way that if a machine can do
everything a body with a mind can do, such that the person and the machine
cannot be told apart; then we can have no basis for ever doubting that the
machine has a mind.

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