Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is the Turing Test Tough Enough?

In the recent GDAT class, we covered machine learning (ML) applied to performance data analysis and particularly the application of so-called support vector machines. In that section of the course I have to first explain what the word "machine" means in the context of ML. These days the term machine refers to software algorithms, but it has its roots in the development of AI and the history of trying to build machines that can think. That notion of intelligent machines goes back more than sixty years to Alan Turing, who was born a hundred years ago today.

The Turing Test (TT) was introduced as "the imitation game" in Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Mind, Vol. 59, No. 236, pp. 433-460 (1950):

The new form of the problem can be described in terms of a game which we call the "imitation game." It is played with three people, a man (A), a woman (B), and an interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The interrogator stays in a room apart from the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman. He knows them by labels X and Y, and at the end of the game he says either "X is A and Y is B" or "X is B and Y is A." The interrogator is allowed to put questions to A and B.