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The World Needs a New Turing Test to Navigate the Age of AI

Some feel the father of modern computing would have welcomed ChatGPT

There was a time in the not too distant past—say, nine months ago—when the Turing test seemed like a pretty stringent detector of machine intelligence. Chances are you’re familiar with how it works: Human judges hold text conversations with two hidden interlocutors, one human and one computer, and try to determine which is which. If the computer manages to fool at least 30 percent of the judges, it passes the test and is pronounced capable of thought.

For 70 years, it was hard to imagine how a computer could pass the test without possessing what AI researchers now call artificial general intelligence, the entire range of human intellectual capacities. Then along came large language models such as GPT and Bard, and the Turing test suddenly began seeming strangely outmoded. OK, sure, a casual user today might admit with a shrug, GPT-4 might very well pass a Turing test if you asked it to impersonate a human. But so what? LLMs lack long-term memory, the capacity to form relationships, and a litany of other human capabilities. They clearly have some way to go before we’re ready to start befriending them, hiring them, and electing them to public office.

And yeah, maybe the test does feel a little empty now. But it was never merely a pass/fail benchmark. Its creator, Alan Turing, a man sentenced in his time to chemical castration, based his test on an ethos of radical inclusivity: The gap between genuine intelligence and a fully convincing imitation of intelligence is only as wide as our own prejudice. When a computer provokes real human responses in us—engaging our intellect, our amazement, our gratitude, our empathy, even our fear—that is more than empty mimicry.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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