The Turing Test

Here is an inexpensive set-up for a Turing Test that anybody can try.

Talk to someone in an online forum until you are completely certain that he or she is conscious. You can use a volunteer or just pick someone at random and not let them know that they are a test subject.

If you are able to reach complete certainty that they are conscious and not an insentient computer programme, then you must have reached complete certainty that a computer programme could never pass the Turing Test. You ruled out this possibility when you became certain you were not speaking to one.

If you cannot reach complete certainty, and have not yet found a way of settling the matter, then you must believe that an insentient computer programme could pass the Turing Test, just as long as you are running the test.

It is questionable whether it matters to anything whether a machine could ever pass the Turing Test. All the same, it is an interesting game to play, reading other people’s posts as if they were part of such a test and then seeing whether it would be possible to be completely certain that they are conscious, and, if it is possible, what it is about their messages that makes it so.

The same experimental procedure can be used to examine the plausibility of philosophical zombies, creatures that behave exactly like human beings on internet forums but who have no idea that they are doing it.

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7 Responses to The Turing Test

  1. whitefrozen says:

    I suspect that the ‘what it is’, would be maddeningly difficult to actually define/quantify.

    • guymax says:

      Yes, you may be right. Your use of the word ‘maddeningly’ suggests to me that you might be conscious, but it’s not quite enough to convince me. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through
    difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it.
    Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the
    answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    • guymax says:

      Sorry, prM, but I know nothing about RSS. I’ll check the page settings.

      • guymax says:

        I’m not sure if this will help, prM, but I’ve added an RSS widget to the page footer. It’s a long way down but it’s there. Is this what was missing?

  3. I love it. What a great way to turn the “Turing Test” on it’s head. I never thought much of the test, but this “inverted” one would be a great philosophical/mind-bending experiment!

    • PeterJ says:

      Thanks BR. I’m wondering now how many other philosophical tests can be similarly inverted.

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