Lanier on the nature of the Turing test, and some recent observations on the nature of Octopi

8th February, 2008

from Jaron Lanier’s One-Half of a Manifesto

“…In Turing’s famous thought experiment, a human judge is asked to determine which of two correspondents is human, and which is machine. If the judge cannot tell, Turing asserts that the computer should be treated as having essentially achieved the moral and intellectual status of personhood.

Turing’s mistake was that he assumed the only explanation for a successful computer entrant would be that the computer had become elevated in some way; by becoming smarter, more human. There is another, equally valid explanation of a winning computer, however, which is that the human had become less intelligent, less humanlike.

An official Turing test is held every year, and while the substantial cash prize has not been claimed by a program as yet, it will certainly be won sometime in the coming years. My view is that this event is distracting everyone from the real Turing tests that are already being won. Real, though miniature, Turing tests are happening all the time, every day, whenever a person puts up with stupid computer software.

For instance, in the United States, we organize our financial lives in order to look good to the pathetically simplistic computer programs that determine our credit ratings. In doing this, we make ourselves stupid in order to make the computer software seem smart. In fact, we continue to trust the credit-rating software even though there has been an epidemic of personal bankruptcies during a time of very low unemployment and great prosperity.

We have caused the Turing test to be passed. There is no epistemological difference between artificial intelligence and the acceptance of badly designed computer software.”

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Comments are closed.