A computer passed a Turing test!

Yesterday (which was a public holiday here in Germany) I was so excited when I caught a glimpse of a Guardian article which claimed that a computer had passed a Turing test for the first time. Today (which is no longer a holiday, so I should be reading more serious stuff, but this piece news was too exciting to let pass by unnoticed) I read a better journalistic summary in the Vice magazine of what actually happened. Of course, the Turing test is itself is not stable unobjective because the measure of success is a computer being able to fool a jury of human interrogators.  Turing wrote the following in his 1950 paper (quoted in Vice, you can read Turing’s original paper here):

We now ask the question, “What will happen when a machine takes the part of [the test subject] in this game?” Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original, “Can machines think?”

As Vice author Martin Robbins point out, “the key words here are “reliably” and “often.” Turing didn’t ask whether a machine could ever, on a single occasion, convince a human judge that it too is human; he asked whether a machine could do so reliably. “

So, the jury is still out… still bloody exciting, though!

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