A Flaw In Turing's Test? No A Flaw In Academia
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Saturday, 09 July 2016

There is a flaw in the Turing test. An AI agent that pleads the 5th can, by remaining silent, convince a judge that it is human and hence pass the test... If you are not rolling on the flaw laughing then you are being impressed by specious argument masquerading as something of academic importance. 




I kid you not. Mainstream academic institutions have been taken in by this argument, the ACM for example, and a paper has been published in a supposedly academic journal: "Taking the fifth amendment in Turing’s imitation game" Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence. But in the words of John McEnroe;

"you CANNOT be serious"

The "you" in this case refers to Kevin Warwick and Huma Shah. Dr Warwick has a reputation for "over hyping" the Turing test in its Loebner Prize incarnation - in fact the over hyping has brought the whole circus that is the Loebner Prize into a reasonably deserved disrepute, see Passing The Turing Test Brings It Into Disrepute. Dr Shah is also involved with the implementation of the Loebner prize. 

The argument that is being put forward is that any reasonable human might claim the 5th amendment and remain silent during the "trial". There are times during the Turing test when both humans and AI agents fail silent and the paper considers these silences.

Can a silence be indicative of intelligence?

Ask Harold Pinter?

But there is a big difference between "modulated" silences that perform some function within an interchange and a blanked refusal to take part.

Does just remaining silent cause a problem for the Turing test?

Dr Warwick thinks so:

“However, if an entity can pass the test by remaining silent, this cannot be seen as an indication it is a thinking entity, otherwise objects such as stones or rocks, which clearly do not think, could pass the test. Therefore, we must conclude that ‘taking the Fifth’ fleshes out a serious flaw in the Turing test.”

This is, of course, nonsense. 

If you refuse to sit an exam you don't get to pass it and refusal to sit an exam doesn't invalidate the exam. The idea that a machine could pass the Turning test by "taking the fifth" is hype designed to catch the imagination of journalists in a hurry to find something to fill the pages. 

Surely there are better things to do than invent problems where none exist.

We all know what the Turing test is supposed to be. It is an operational definition of intelligence and as such the field of discourse has to be wide and not restricted to any single domain - not even the domain of silence. 

This is the sort of thing that makes that common man, who knows intelligence when he sees it, bemoan the fact that these guys get to live in an ivory tower and waste the resources provided for them. 

I'd prefer to say, "this is just silly".

More Information

Study exposes major flaw in classic artificial intelligence test

"Taking the fifth amendment in Turing’s imitation game" K Warwick & H. Shah

Related Articles

Turing's Red Flag 

A Neural Network Chatbot - Surprisingly Human? 

Replacing the Turing Test 

Lovelace 2.0 Test - An Alternative Turing Test 


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 July 2016 )