BLOG

Alan Turing Had It Right All Along

22.07.2019
Share this

The UK last week declared that Alan Turing would be the face on the new fifty pound note. Described by some as the father of computing science, Turing was famous for designing and building the computers that broke the German Enigma code during World War 2. But he also, in 1950, came up with the so-called ‘Turing Test’. At a time when many scientists were trying to create objective measures to analyse Artificial Intelligence, Turing proposed a simple test which stated, in essence, that if a computer could respond to a series of questions in a way that was indistinguishable from a human then it was, for all intents and purposes, ‘intelligent’.

 

The ‘ELIZA’ programme, developed in the 1960s, was able to create the illusion of a human conversation through pattern-matching and was followed by A.L.I.C.E (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) in the 1970s. Modern chatbots almost all operate on the principle that they are self-learning, and therefore improve with usage and experience. The generally accepted goal is that chatbots should, eventually, become indistinguishable from humans, thus passing the ultimate version of the Turing test.

The problem is that, in order to do this, chatbots would have to develop emotional as well as intellectual intelligence. Pressure to achieve this comes from some research evidence suggesting that humans respond better when they think they are talking to a human, whether they are or not. However, it’s reasonable to assume that the aim of making chatbots as human as possible isn’t the same as hoodwinking people into mistaking a bot for a human. The EU guidance on AI development principles is specific on this – it should always be clear whether responses are coming from humans or digital assistants. Moreover, while it may be amusing to ask a chatbot what colour its shoes are, it’s hard to see how the programme is improved by asking questions to which it can only be obliged to lie in response.

Instead, perhaps it would be better to recognise Digital Assistants for what they are – a convenient means of searching a database and acting accordingly. Empathetic responses can be left to the assistants best placed to provide them – human beings. After all, the Turing Test said nothing about machines needing to have emotional intelligence. Something to remember if, sometime next year, you find yourself in possession of a fifty-pound note.

We should see chatbots as digital assistants, not pseudo-humans

Theme:
Investment, Privacy, Safety, Security
Region:
Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Europe
You may also like... Blog
petri dishes
Coronavirus reminds us of the seriousness of fake news 18.02.2020
Blog
Reality Bites in the Spectrum Auctions 20.01.2020
Blog
Will 2020 Be the Year Regulation Catches Up With Social Media? 16.01.2020

Latest

News
IMDA Singapore
Bids submitted for 5G licences in Singapore 21.02.2020
News
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Zuckerberg’s stance on regulation 20.02.2020
Blog
petri dishes
Coronavirus reminds us of the seriousness of fake news 18.02.2020
News
FTC investigates 'big tech' acquisitions
FTC investigates ‘big tech’ acquisitions 17.02.2020
View All
Back to the top

The IIC is the world's only policy debating platform for the converged communications industry

We give innovators and regulators a forum in which to explore, debate and agree the best policies and regulatory frameworks for widest societal benefit.

Insight: Exchange: Influence

We give members a voice through conferences, symposiums and private meetings, as well as broad exposure of their differing viewpoints through articles, reports and interviews.

The new website will make it easier for you to gather fresh insights, exchange views with others and have a voice in the debate

Take a look Learn more about our updates
Please upgrade your browser

You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The International Institute of Communications website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:

Windows Mac

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.