Are computers capable of thinking? YES, the Turing Test  

ABSTRACT:
From Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers "Computer" Journal - March 1999 - pages 27 through 30.

Did IBM's Deep Blue computer ace the Turing Test? Did it do much more?     It seems that the IBM creation not only beat the reigning Chess World Champion Gary Kasparov, but also took a large step, in some people's eyes toward true artificial intelligence.

A REAL-LIFE TURING TEST:

However, it was neither the complexity of an algorithm nor the power of the computer that made Deep Blue's match victory, so remarkable. It was Gary Kasparov's reaction that proved the computer's intelligence according to Alan Turing's classical definition of artificial intelligence. This recent chess match gave us an excellent example of a real-life Turing Test. At numerous press conferences during and after the match, Kasparov expressed doubts that he played against the computer itself. He implied that there was some untoward behavior by the Deep Blue team saying that "I have no idea what's happening behind the curtain." Kasparov stopped short of directly accusing the Deep Blue team of human intervention in the process of selecting moves, but went so far as to admit the appearance of human intelligence in the computer's actions. It did appear that Kasparov confused the computer with a human.

For the first time time, a computer seems to have passed the Turing Test.

THE TURING TEST:

Does the ability to play the highest level chess prove the existence of intelligence in a computer? Alan Turing, British mathematician and one of the founders of computer science, considered chess to be a beginning step in the process of programming computers to be actually intelligent. In 1950 he wrote:

"We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields. But which are the best ones to start with? Even this is a difficult decision. Many people think that an abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best."

In the same article, written in 1950, he asked whether machines are capable of thinking. He then answered "yes," but the central question that remained was how to determine if a computer could think. Turing suggested that if the reponses from the computer were indestinguishable from that of a human, we could say that the computer was thinking.

The Turing Test consists of the following scenario: An interviewer (sitting in a separate room) asks a series of questions that are randomly directed to either a computer or person. Based on the answers, the interviewer must distinguish which of the two has answered the question. If the interviewer is not able to distinguish between them, then the computer is intelligent.

Anjelina Belakovskaia is the US Women's Chess champion, International Grand Master, and an active proponent of human-computer cooperation in chess. she thinks it is time to stop testing computers and playing "us against them" and instead begin using their power in collaboration. She is planning to participate in the first match against another human player where both players are allowed to use the help of computers as partners.

The possibilities arising from collaboration among humans and computers are even more intriguing than their differences were almost 50 years ago. I think Alan Turing would have agreed.

AUTHOR:

Dr. M. Krol, PhD, - Mt. Sinai School of Medicine - New York City, NY

Good luck, Bob

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