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The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test 136

malachiorion writes: Alan Turing never wrote about the Turing Test, that legendary measure of machine intelligence that researchers claimed to have passed last weekend. He proposed something much stranger — a contest between men and machines, to see who was better at pretending to be a woman. The details of the Imitation Game aren't secret, or even hard to find, and yet no one seems to reference it. This article explains why they should — in part because it's so odd, but also because it might be a better test for 'machines that think' than the chatbot-infested, seemingly useless Turing Test.
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The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test

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  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:53PM (#47231359)

    You're asking a machine to mimic something profoundly alien to it's nature, to put things on an equal footing the man should have to do so as well.

    And please, let's not get in to the similarity/difference argument. Yes, the similarities between the minds of men and women far outweigh the differences, but the differences are still profound.

  • Re:Curse of AI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lab Rat Jason ( 2495638 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:15PM (#47231581)
    It's more like a case of people pushing the goal posts back to where they originally were, after some over zealous AI zealot moved them forward to make his failure look like a success...
  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:15PM (#47231583)

    to understand how a machine could be made to pass the Turing test (or the woman test) honestly and thoroughly. To do so, it would have to understand arbitrary human statements and questions: not just "why is the sky blue?" (relatively easy) but "why doesn't my wife understand me?" and "is the real rational, as Hegel posited, and if so (or not) why (not)?" Note that the machine could reasonably pretend to know nothing about Hegel, but it would have to react like a normal human being. No obfuscation such as pretending to be foreign, a child, thoroughly ignorant, or befuddled by drugs should be accepted.

    Going a little further, it would have to cope with (very) simple jokes such as "I asked my dog which team would win the World Cup"/"What did he say?"/"Nothing. HE'S A DOG".

  • Re:Curse of AI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:24PM (#47231665) Journal
    Arguably, the 'AI curse' is only partly goalpost-moving by humans obsessed with their special uniqueness.

    The other aspect of it (as well a genuinely interesting result of whatever attempt at AI was made) is the discovery that we actually handle much less of what we do in some sort of naive, idealized, "high-level, general-purpose, cognition" than we naively suspect, and rather more in specialized and unconscious mechanisms(this lesson can be learned from the other direction as well: something like face blindness, in otherwise cognitively and visually normal people, simply wouldn't be possible if object recognition were a general-purpose function handled by an 'intelligence' with access to a video stream...) And, even when we aren't crunching stuff unconsciously on quite special-purpose mechanisms, we are sometimes just dumb. Good old Youtube comments would probably allow a babbling Markov chain to pass a Turing test.

    There's also the fact that humans are frequently easier to fool than they would like: It's not exactly news that people will see faces on the moon, a known sterile rock, impute emotions (and sometimes entire spirits or deities) to the weather, emotionally bond with tamagotchis and similar nonsense.

    Yes, people are likely to dismiss every AI that doesn't end up murdering them all and rendering them for computronium as 'just an expert system'; but it's also arguably the case that using a Turing test to check for AI substantially rests on the assumption, more or less Cartesian and more or less nonsense, that man is first and foremost an abstract 'thinking thing', with some other stuff tacked on that philosophers and mathematicians needn't really worry about.
  • by nyctopterus ( 717502 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:24PM (#47231675) Homepage

    Define "profound". You make it sound like men and women's minds start from completely different places and end up converging on similarity, but that's absurd. Men and women differ statistically over populations, but individuals might fall pretty much anywhere in the spectrums of things that differ. There's no way I would be confident of identifying the gender of an individual in this sort of scenario. Statistically, I'm sure I could do a lot better than chance, but each one is pretty uncertain.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:27PM (#47231705) Homepage

    Wow, neither my mother nor my wife are the crazy irrational beasts that I keep hearing about. As far as I can tell, my sister in law and my cousins, also not crazy irrational people. Most of my exes, also not crazy irrational.

    OK, I had a girlfriend in highschool who was.

    Either I've been lucky, or women aren't these un-knowable entities everyone keeps claiming.

    Though, my brother did date his share of crazies, and an uncle's ex-wife was definitely crazy ... but in a general crazy sense, not so much with the "crazy because she's female" sense.

    Then again, I'm hardly famous for my insights into individual people. :-P

  • Three Laws Safe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:29PM (#47231735)

    "Passing" the Turing Test is about as valid as Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid AT gmail DOT com> on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:57PM (#47232005) Homepage Journal
    You're not lucky, you just have a broader range of human experience.

    The sad truth is, all us humans are a little crazy (aka human). It's just only seen as a bad thing if you have a vagina.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle