Re: Turing Test

From: HARNAD, Stevan (
Date: Wed Feb 16 2000 - 20:46:41 GMT

On Thu, 10 Feb 2000, Paramanantham, Daran wrote:

> Paramanantham:
> This game is basically some sort of test, to find out whether a machine
> can deceive the interrogator and how well it does compared to a human.
> The outcome relies on the quality of questions asked, and how well a
> machine can learn from the questions.

Is it about deception? If a machine is designed that can do everything
I can, is that deception? Is it not possible that it really works the
way I do, inside?

> Paramanantham:
> It is important to understand the working of a machine, for future
> investigations, research, improvements etc. This enables designers to
> enhance their understanding of machines.

Yes, but Turing-testing is not just about ways to engineer better
machines; it's also about reverse-engineering how the brain works, to
produce a thinking mind.

> > Shaw:
> > This seems to be quite a convincing argument in favour of machines
> > eventually being able to think. Can't the brain be considered a
> > discrete-state machine: surely a neuron either fires or it doesn't
> > and it is this that determines the effect on the rest of the
> > brain.
> Paramanantham:
> For this to be feasible, machines will have to be given a set of
> training data initially. Hence, for a machine to 'think' it needs to
> undergo supervised learning. If this is the case, will machines ever
> be able to 'think' for themselves.

Is that a question or an answer?

> Paramanantham:
> If a machine can 'learn' from its environment (following rules or not),
> then It is said that they can think, do we (humans) follow rules and
> learn from them.

Hard to tell from this what you think is the case, and why...

> Paramanantham:
> This comes back to the idea of how well a machine can interact between
> Itself and the environment. Machines are known to be consistent, this
> make them Correct and sound. However, if a machine was to change it's
> thoughts every time it itself was in a different state, then this will
> lead to scientists arguing that if a machine was able to 'think', it is
> logically incorrect and unsound.

I couldn't follow this: People sometimes reason soundly, sometimes not;
same for machines. Both sometimes make mistakes. There seems to be no
principled basis for a distinction here.

> Paramanantham:
> For a machine to learn anything it first has to be given information,
> just like humans, from then on, its up to the machine on how they deal
> (process) with this information.

So is thinking the same as information processing? How? why? Is my SGI,
then, which can't even pass the TT, thinking, because it's processing

> Paramanantham:
> The type of information ex. pleasure,
> and pain and other emotions will have to be provided.

How do you provide pleasure and pain to a computer? And are pleasure
and pain information?

> Paramanantham:
> If this is
> possible and a machine can learn from these and adapt, then it is
> possible of machines being able to think.

If we already knew a machine was experiencing pleasure, the question of
whether it was thinking or not would be a very minor one...

> Paramanantham:
> The main point to be made
> about 'can machines think', is by how much the designers want the
> machines to think? is it to increase performance or is it to imitate a
> human.

No, I think the main point is not about how much, but about how, and
whether, and why, and how would we be able to tell...


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