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  • What is consciousness?

  • Can an artificial machine really think?

  • Does the mind just consist of neurons in the brain, or is there some intangible spark at its core?

  • For many, these have been vital considerations for the future of artificial intelligence.

  • But British computer scientist Alan Turing decided to disregard all these questions in favor of a much simpler one: Can a computer talk like a human?

  • This question led to an idea for measuring aritificial intelligence that would famously come to be known as the Turing test.

  • In the 1950 paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," Turing proposed the following game.

  • A human judge has a text conversation with unseen players and evaluates their responses.

  • To pass the test, a computer must be able to replace one of the players without substantially changing the results.

  • In other words, a computer would be considered intelligent if its conversation couldn't be easily distinguished from a human's.

  • Turing predicted that by the year 2000, machines with 100 megabytes of memory would be able to easily pass his test.

  • But he may have jumped the gun.

  • Even though today's computers have far more memory than that, few have succeeded,

  • and those that have done well focused more on finding clever ways to fool judges than using overwhelming computing power.

  • Though it was never subjected to a real test, the first program with some claim to success was called ELIZA.

  • With only a fairly short and simple script, it managed to mislead many people by mimicking a psychologist,

  • encouraging them to talk more and reflecting their own questions back at them.

  • Another early script PARRY took the opposite approach by imitating a paranoid schizophrenic who kept steering the conversation back to his own preprogrammed obsessions.

  • Their success in fooling people highlighted one weakness of the test.

  • Humans regularly attribute intelligence to a whole range of things that are not actually intelligent.

  • Nonetheless, annual competitions like the Loebner Prize, have made the test more formal with judges knowing ahead of time that some of their conversation partners are machines.

  • But while the quality has improved, many chatbot programmers have used similar strategies to ELIZA and PARRY.

  • 1997's winner Catherine could carry on amazingly focused and intelligent conversation, but mostly if the judge wanted to talk about Bill Clinton.

  • And the more recent winner Eugene Goostman was given the persona of a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy,

  • so judges interpreted its nonsequiturs and awkward grammar as language and culture barriers.

  • Meanwhile, other programs like Cleverbot have taken a different approach by statistically analyzing huge databases of real conversations to determine the best responses.

  • Some also store memories of previous conversations in order to improve over time.

  • But while Cleverbot's individual responses can sound incredibly human, its lack of a consistent personality and inability to deal with brand new topics are a dead giveaway.

  • Who in Turing's day could have predicted that today's computers would be able to pilot spacecraft,

  • perform delicate surgeries and solve massive equations, but still struggle with the most basic small talk?

  • Human language turns out to be an amazingly complex phenomenon that can't be captured by even the largest dictionary.

  • Chatbots can be baffled by simple pauses, like "umm..." or questions with no correct answer.

  • And a simple conversational sentence, like, "I took the juice out of the fridge and gave it to him, but forgot to check the date,"

  • requires a wealth of underlying knowledge and intuition to parse.

  • It turns out that simulating a human conversation takes more than just increasing memory and processing power,

  • and as we get closer to Turing's goal, we may have to deal with all those big questions about consciousness after all.

What is consciousness?

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B1 TED-Ed turing test conversation human computer

【TED-Ed】The Turing test: Can a computer pass for a human? - Alex Gendler

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    黃于珍 posted on 2016/05/04
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