A computer has passed the Turing test for humanity – should we be worried

In essence, being human is fundamentally a moral category not a biometric one – it is unlikely that artificial intelligence will ever surpass us on this score….BUT

A “super computer” has duped humans into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy to become the first machine to pass the Turing test, experts have said. Five machines were tested at the Royal Society in central London to see if they could fool people into thinking they were humans during text-based conversations.

The test was devised in 1950 by computer science pioneer and second world war codebreaker Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”.

No computer had ever previously passed the Turing test, which requires 30% of human interrogators to be duped during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations, organisers from the University of Reading said.

But “Eugene Goostman”, a computer programme developed to simulate a 13-year-old boy, managed to convince 33% of the judges that it was human, the university said.



33 thoughts on “A computer has passed the Turing test for humanity – should we be worried

  1. Why would a human-capable computer be a worry? Such a development, however, may finally demand that we actually define ‘life’.

    We live in interesting times! Nimble-fingered and ‘unit-thinking’ 10-year-olds, becoming more like ‘living computers’ every day might even make human computers redundant.

    The risk is overload.


  2. Is part of that test developing a delusion of self importance beyond that of the entire universe .
    Formulating data to establish a escape program .
    A onset of mental problems.
    and etc etc etc
    And to top it off :-
    Self program Theology this enabling a primes that everything is here for it to exist .


    • ps. ‘Intelligence’, like all things, is nontheless relative.

      There must come a point at which it has no further application.
      I remember the shock-horror when Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov ; but that not only meant was that Kasparov was no longer the best in the world, but that the computer had nobody left to play with.

      Beware! The same thing will happen to all you godbotherers if you ever do get to meet your god.


    • I don’t think Alan had all that in mind when he created the test AT. He was a mathematician and computer scientist. He wanted a test for artificial intelligence which cause a lot of objections later on.

      One of the objections to the test that was posed later was that regardless on how well the computer answered question, it would not have a soul and thus would not be self aware.


      • Yeah, Dom. They say the same thing (“it would not have a soul and thus would not be self aware”) about dogs and wombats and ~ in some fundie circles ~ women and blackfellas, too. (and can produce biblical ‘evidence’ to back up their assertions.)

        And here’s one for the philosopher:- By what standard are we aware that we’re ‘aware’? (and who sets the standard?)
        And at what point do we become ‘aware’ that we’re aware?
        (ie. Could said ‘awareness’ be a product similar to potty-training? ~ or an adaptation to environmental factors?)


  3. I did a couple of semesters of philosophy to get easy credits so I could finish my degree and get the hell out of there.

    We covered the Turin test in detail. Later philosophers discounted the Turin test is a sign of being able to think. It just a case that eventually the computer will be able to be programmed to cover every possibility in a conversation … well 30% of the time.

    Turing (1950) says:

    I believe that in about fifty years’ time it will be possible to programme computers, with a storage capacity of about 10 to the power of 9, to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than 70 percent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning. … I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.


    • I don’t think “intelligence” has ever been clearly defined, but isn’t that —> “eventually the computer will be able to be programmed to cover every possibility” it’s function?

      …and incidentally, aren’t those “Later philosophers (who) discounted the Turin test” the very type of person who always “did a couple of semesters of philosophy to get easy credits”….because they didn’t have the talent to get a degree in engineering, nuclear physics or crotcheting?

      And for what? Bobby Fischer had an IQ described only as “astronomical”, used it to make a lot of money and win fame, and had virtually no education at all, perhaps thereby being a human comparison for the ‘IQ potential’ of computers……. forty years ago.

      But today’s computers ‘sort out the options’ at up to
      36,000,000,000,000,000, 000 fpo (and increasing), which is umpteen times faster than a human brain can operate under any circumstances.
      Further, our bodies aren’t able to consume (let alone convert) a tiny fraction of the energy it’d need to run a brain at those levels.

      I expect god’s off hiding in embarrassment at the inferior product he produced to carry his brand! 🙂
      (Could explain why he hasn’t returned as promised.?)


      • Inferior brand ? Have you tried going to the park and having conversations with your more advanced smart phone. 😉


      • ps….and now, apparently, they’re group- BOINCing. (without even a few drinks first!)

        “The entire BOINC network averages about 9.5 petaFLOPS as of March 19, 2013.[38]”


    • Not a chance. Apparently they have more go than the computers to the moon. I don’t even know how to plug them in. And don’t want to know. I prefer god’s stoneage model.

      But there must be limits. My brother ‘got into computers’ when he began high school ~ in 1962, before most people had even heard of them. He ended up being recognised as an international authority, particularly in military (missile-systems, etc. and other large-scale government) applications. He retired at the age of fifty because he couldn’t keep up (and reckoned no human could; computers were building and operating systems while we slept. Scary!

      And that’s not all. Have a look at the price/capacity list near the bottom of this page. While the cost of kids is rising (and their mental-capacity shrinking) computer chips are going in the opposite direction.

      ……..any computer I see trundling up my garden path cops two loads of buckshot, no questions asked!


  4. …and speaking of Bobby Fischer:- (vis-a-vis topics on this blog)
    he was a german jew and violently ‘anti-semitic’
    he insisted that women didn’t have enough brains to master chess
    he was raised by a single mother ~ and one who generally wasn’t around (being of in pursuit of her own personal interests.)
    he took religion as seriously as he did chess ~ until he decided it was ‘satanic,’ and vigorously attacking it.

    aah! the burden of intelligence.


    • There many intelligent people where I worked who were useless. We used to have people who got high distinctions at UNI and that were of no use at work. A guy who was failing and was going to be sacked but was saved because all his clients got together and protested it.


      • A high IQ without focus and application means nothing. A high EQ is a better indicator of ‘success’.


      • What’s EQ?
        While it goes without saying that a high ‘IQ’ (only a comparison-measurement after all) doesn’t guarantee ‘success’ (whatever THAT is), it does guarantee one options and the ability to choose the best applicable options to any given situation.

        Input is still the basic requirement, and that’s where non-organic ‘intelligences’ are at a disadvantage ~ for now. They have no motivation to see ‘problems’ (eg. no survival instinct) so need to be fed the problems.
        But they do have much greater data-banks of information on which to draw (eg. all the world’s libraries and museums and multitudes of electrical/mechanical sensors) than do people (relying on ‘memory’ and ‘research-aids’). (Check out the ‘Smart-Meter’ system for starters!)

        But even I can see that eventually computers will be (self?) programmed to seek out solutions to infinite theoretical problems ~ probably be computing every possible outcome to every possible circumstance and then being able to reference any point along any of those ‘searches’.

        That might even deliver a non-‘faith’-or-‘belief’-based answer to the most persistently disruptive question of the last 50 thousand or so years. Or perhaps questions of god’s existence will compute as being too transient to bother wasting the wattage on? 🙂


      • I think or ideas of what ‘intelligence’ is are widely divergent:-
        Not a measure of skill, but a matter of potential.
        An indicator of ‘learnability’ rather than ‘education’.

        ….and ‘smartness’ has nothing to do with it.

        In any case it’s NOTHING more than a tool for comparison between people.

        As stated elsewhere:- if you dropped someone with “Logical-Mathematical Intelligence ” and “Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence”
        into the middle of the Brazilian jungle their ‘intelligence’ levels
        would be equally useless.
        A wombat with an IQ of 3 would survive longer and better.


      • Computer is playing up again.This apparently fell out of one of the above posts:-
        “You could’ve simply said ‘Emotional Quotient’.
        And my immediate response would’ve been:- ‘I don’t ‘do’ Women’s Weekly pop-psych tests.’
        Self-assessment is an exercise in subjectivity, and of no value in just about any terms . ~ least of all in terms of ‘success’ (whatever that is and however it’s measured).


  5. In the BMTI tests, there are two ways of gathering information, and two ways of processing it. Humans vary, and I think computers still have a long way to go to emulate this variation.

    In gathering information, some people rely on their physical senses. They
    Mentally live in the Now, attending to present opportunities
    Using common sense and creating practical solutions is automatic-instinctual
    Memory recall is rich in detail of facts and past events
    Best improvise from past experience
    Like clear and concrete information; dislike guessing when facts are “fuzzy”

    Mentally live in the Future, attending to future possibilities
    Using imagination and creating/inventing new possibilities is automatic-instinctual
    Memory recall emphasizes patterns, contexts, and connections
    Best improvise from theoretical understanding
    Comfortable with ambiguous, fuzzy data and with guessing its meaning.

    In processing information, some
    Instinctively search for facts and logic in a decision situation.
    Naturally notices tasks and work to be accomplished.
    Easily able to provide an objective and critical analysis.
    Accept conflict as a natural, normal part of relationships with people.

    Instinctively employ personal feelings and impact on people in decision situations
    Naturally sensitive to people needs and reactions.
    Naturally seek consensus and popular opinions.
    Unsettled by conflict; have almost a toxic reaction to disharmony.

    Not only do different combinations give 4 sorts of intelligence, but people have varying mixed degrees of these attributes, resulting in more types of intelligence than you can shake a stick at.

    This is without even considering
    1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”)
    2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”)
    3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
    4. Existential Intelligence
    5. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart”)
    6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”)
    7. Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)
    8. Intra-personal Intelligence (Self Smart”)
    9. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”)


    • Yep. “Using common sense and creating practical solutions is automatic-instinctual
      Memory recall is rich in detail of facts and past events”
      …….and mostly subjective and dependent on fallible/fading memory.

      Computer systems don’t ‘muddle through’, they objectify.
      That might simultaneously be their greates strength and their greatest weakness.

      Read (again?) the last couple of pages of The Social Contract.


    • I think or ideas of what ‘intelligence’ is are widely divergent:-
      Not a measure of skill, but a matter of potential.
      An indicator of ‘learnability’ rather than ‘education’.

      ….and ‘smartness’ has nothing to do with it.

      In any case it’s NOTHING more than a tool for comparison between people.

      As stated elsewhere:- if you dropped someone with “Logical-Mathematical Intelligence ” and “Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence”
      into the middle of the Brazilian jungle their ‘intelligence’ levels
      would be equally useless.
      A wombat with an IQ of 3 would survive longer and better.


    • The test promises to tell you which of the 16 personality “types” yours most resembles, slotted along a range of behavioral binaries. As a refresher, they are:

      • Extraverted or Introverted

      • Sensing or Intuiting

      • Thinking or Feeling

      • Judging or Perceiving

      The types describe readymade personalities suitable for a T-shirt or coffeemug: The INTP is the Architect, the INFP is the Healer, the ENTJ is the Commander.

      Taken together, the test and its administration is an industry unto itself, worth around $20 million a year.

      It’s a little troubling, given that Myers and Briggs were a mother (Katharine Briggs) and daughter (Isabel Myers) who studied the works of psychologist Carl Jung a hundred years ago, particularly his book “Psychological Types.” Myers and Briggs weren’t social scientists themselves. Briggs was a housewife with a deep interest in Jung; before she wrote a survey that served as a prototype of Myers-Briggs personality tests, Myers wrote mystery novels.

      Many people say they didn’t really understand Jung at all.

      As Malcom Gladwell writes in the New Yorker:

      … Jung didn’t believe that types were easily identifiable, and he didn’t believe that people could be permanently slotted into one category or another. “Every individual is an exception to the rule,” he wrote; to “stick labels on people at first sight,” in his view, was “nothing but a childish parlor game.”

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/myers-briggs-personality-test-is-misleading-2014-6#ixzz35WawjEqp


      • Quite right, Dabs. But we can surely see that there are many varying personalities. We are all individual. None of those types are necessarily more intelligent than another. Even those who depend more on ‘thinking’ than ‘feeling’ to process information, would fit into only certain types of intelligence.

        The question here is about computer intelligence. Computers may need personalities built in before they can cover the whole range of human intelligence?


  6. No-one (peers) seemed to have any idea what Turing was on about. Different wave-length. Almost autistic.

    Same with Einstein… using his own ‘code’ of equations, other scientists did not recognize nor accept, then suggesting sir Isaac Newton got it wrong, in a scientific theory that could not be proven.

    And he couldn’t give 2 hoots because he knew he was correct.

    Almost 15 years and 2 world wars later … we now know he was correct.

    He did not discover atoms nor split the atom….

    His discovery was a result of musical perception which enabled the world to understand our universe more completely and honestly.

    As for Turing … all the west could do in return for his services was to dis-credit him for being homosexual.

    Einstein was smart in denouncing his German citizenship, learning quickly that nationalism was deadly.

    Einstein was the perfect scientist… never believing anything except fact.


  7. I’ve just wasted an hour investigating EQ, only to confirm my initial response.
    Another quasi-religious New Age self-help nonsense with no science or established benchmarks behind it and everybody free to make up their own rules and assessments.

    But I’m not convinced even the Women’s Weekly would bother with it.
    Check out the headings and links and you’ll get the idea.


  8. How about this tangent :-
    Believers claim this is all but a test .
    So are those mental disorders.,Mental diseases and the myriad of brain problems are part of those people or are those things discarded or kept?
    Now either way brings up much harder questions .
    If those mind problems are kept is that not a eternity of torture if you believe in eternity .
    If it is discarded what benefit did those get with such infliction in their lives ?
    If they did why should not all be given such infliction .
    There is another alternative on the belief believers claim there is .
    A typical lab experiment requiring different study group.
    Subjecting those groups to tests and study trends and analyze the behavior ..
    Aaah :- it is great being outside the restrictions of religion .
    Imagining anything no matter how absurd and know all would be better than anyone trying to gain immortality.


    • I wish I knew, AT. Some say such afflicted persons are reaping something they’ve sown in a past life, (perhaps persecuting a mentally ill person) in which case they may have more compassion in their next (mentally well) life, or have to repeat the lesson, which is unlikely.

      Jesus is said to have descended into hell and so knows and is compassionate of such torture. Same principle.

      Also a mentally afflicted person is responsible for hard lessons to those around him/her.

      So eternity brings more lessons, with various graduations along the way? Who knows. I am content to leave it in God’s hands, whether through the ministry of His angels His unknowable self.


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