the Turing test

Lyle Burkhead (
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 02:04:51 -0500 (EST)

Hal Finney writes,

> The question is, given such a miraculous device, how hard
> would it be for you, meaning the typical programmer reading this,
> to produce a program which could pass the Turing test...

For newbies, maybe we should introduce this term. Turing's test was
proposed by Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science.
The idea is that you want to determine when an AI program has reached
the human level of intelligence. So you have a conversation with it
through a terminal. You can ask it any question you want, and you try
to judge, from its answers, whether they are being generated by a
human or a computer. If you think your correspondent is human, and
then the experimenter lets you look behind the curtain, and there is a
computer sitting there -- the program has passed the test.

Some time ago, a group of cs students at Carnegie Mellon decided to
run an experiment. They subscribed their AI program to the Extropian
list under a made-up name. Their program participates in the various
discussions on this list. It doesn't get any help from the students.
The Extropians have accepted it as part of the group. No one notices
anything different about it -- no one has seriously raised the question of
whether it might not be what it purports to be, i.e. just another human.
In other words, this program has passed the Turing test, so far.