AI fake news: Turing test (not) passed

Guardian letter 1 (June 2014)

(A Guardian report gullibly repeated a ridiculous claim that the famous test had been passed.)

Alan Turing

The Turing test has not been ‘officially’ passed at all. Turing said that most of the interrogators had to be fooled, and that the conversation would have to take a long time. Plus, it’s a chatbot, not an artificial intelligence program; and pretending to be a child whose first language is not English is clearly a cheat.

Ai is impossible for the foreseeable future. Intelligence, evolved over millions of years, is a highly complex phenomenon that is not understood and therefore cannot be reproduced by computer code. 

Take humour, for instance. Take one aspect of humour: irony. We take it for granted, but the subtleties of its production and perception are a million miles from ‘AI’ capability.

The AI project has produced some wonderful and life-saving developments in analysis and robotics, but it’s misnamed – and the discussion about intelligent robots is ridiculous.

To begin to create AI, developers (and their funders) should drop the impossible and wildly hubristic current top-level project.

They should slow it down and try to reproduce the evolution of intelligence by analysing its basic but highly complex components: vision and the other senses – and their coordinated interpretation.

Turing was right to make language the test for AI. It’s an end-product of the evolution of social animals. Its structure can easily be ‘analysed’, but it can’t easily be reproduced. The chatbot simulations are just pathetic.

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