The Turing test: Can a computer pass for a human?

The human mind is complex and some of its functions still remain a mystery to us. With the advancement of technology, we have achieved something known as Artificial Intelligence. It refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans. But can machines keep up with something as complex and complicated as a human brain?


The Turing test

In 1950, Alan Turing came up with a test to measure Artificial Intelligence known as the Turing test or the imitation game. In this test, a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour that is equivalent to humans is evaluated.

How does the imitation game work?

A human evaluator would judge conversations between a human and a machine that is programmed to respond like humans. The medium of communication would be text only; the evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners is a machine and all participants would be separated from one another. If the evaluator fails to tell the machine from the human, the machine passes the test.

Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) pass for humans?

While few AIs have successfully mimicked human minds, it was them mostly tricking the evaluators rather than using computing power. The AIs can perform only as per the script, once it’s off the script they fail to keep up with the new information. A simple small talk could confuse the AI. Human language cannot be captured; it is a vast phenomenon of complexities, emotions, logical yet illogical talk, intuition, growth, understanding, and knowledge of many years that machines haven’t grasped yet. AI has been statistically analysing huge databases of real conversations to give the best response but still, they can’t answer how much salt you should put in your food.

Alan Turing predicted by the year 2000, computers will be able to easily mimic humans. But even today, computers haven’t been able to replicate the human minds. It is less about how much memory a computer can hold and more about understanding consciousness. Once we understand consciousness, maybe one-day computers will be able to compete with the human brain (and take over the world!).

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