Over the last month, I’ve heard a lot about the Turing Test devised by Alan Turing. Alan Turing is the perfect example of ‘not all heroes wear capes’ in action. But what is the Turing Test?
Today I’m going to share all you need to know to answer the question, ‘what is the Turing test’ as well as why I believe Alan Turing is a hero.
On the 8th of May 2018, Google showcased their latest virtual assistant offering, Google Duplex.
What’s so special about that I hear you ask?
Everyone’s got a virtual assistant these days. From Amazon there’s Alexa, Samsung have Bixby and of course Apples Siri.
What makes Google Duplex so unique?
Well, what makes Duplex unique is that she is able to make phone calls and book appointments for you. Not only that, but you wouldn’t even know you’re talking to a machine.
The demonstration is so good that people are saying that Google Duplex has passed the Turing Test. Check it out below.
What is the Turing Test?
So what is the Turing test? For those less familiar with this test, the Turing test has become the benchmark used to test the artificial intelligence of machines.
The Turing Test devised by legendary computer scientist Alan Turing is otherwise known as the imitation game.
In the imitation game, there are 3 or more players, 1 interrogator and the participants. The interrogator has to guess which of the participants are human and which are machines by asking them a series of questions.
For a device or program to pass the Turing Test, the interrogator should not be able to reliably say which is human or machine.
Does Google Duplex pass the Turing Test?
The assertion that Google Duplex passes the Turing Test has been the subject of considerable debate over the past few weeks.
There are good arguments on either side.
In my opinion, if you think about, what is the Turing test, and how to pass it as we described above, the benchmark used to understand if a person can identify between AI and a person, the answer is clear.
Originally I had planned to give my thoughts on the matter in this post. I have now decided however that you can get the information required for you to make up your own mind from people much more educated than myself on the subject.
So you can do this I have listed some articles discussing it I found most interesting here:
Did Google Duplex just pass the Turing Test? – By Lance Ulanoff on Medium – Thinks 100% Yes!
No, Google Duplex didn’t pass the Turing Test – By Peter Voss – Doesn’t think so (clearly 🙂 )
Did Google Duplex beat the Turing Test? Yes and No. – By Artem Oppermann – On the Fence
- Did Google’s Duplex AI Demo Just Pass the Turing Test? – By Joel Hruska – Not exactly
Alphabet chairman says Google Duplex passes Turing test in one specific way – By Richard Nieva quoting John Hennessy – Partically
Instead, I want to use my time with you this week to talk about the man behind the test.
Alan Turing and the Turing Test
Why have I decided to focus on Alan Turing? The story of Alan Turing is an important part of not only the history of computer programming but also of humanity.
This week I was fortunate enough to help out at a country fair back in my hometown with my family.
For the show, my mum had organized for the RAF to do a World War 2 memorial flyover with a Lancaster Bomber. The picture above is one my mum’s friend took on the day!
A World War 2 veteran in attended as well as several people whose parents had been involved in the war effort. It was a beautiful moment to witness and very emotional.
I’d already had the Turing Test on my mind, but this got me thinking about the man behind the test, Alan Turing.
I want to provide some background for people who were less familiar with the story. Also, June is Pride month. If I needed a sign, I think I’d found it. With all of this in mind, I made my decision.
So who was Alan Turing? Who was this creator of tests? This master of computers? Who was this winner of wars?
Who was Alan Turing?
64 years ago today (7/06/1954) Alan Turing committed suicide.
Enigma was used by the Nazis to communicate in World War 2. The breaking of Enigma for was a pivotal point in the war effort. It was a critical driver that ultimately led to the allies victory in 1945.
He is a hero.
After the war Turing would go on to work at Manchester University developing the Manchester Computers. Then, in 1950, he published his paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence.’ This paper describes a test to access the artificial intelligence of machines.
This would come to be known as the Turing Test.
In the 1950s it was illegal to be homosexual in the U.K.
Alan Turing was arrested in 1952 for gross indecency due to homosexual acts. He was given a choice of prison or chemical castration. He chose chemical castration This was a truly horrific punishment. The impact of this ‘therapy’ on the human body could cause a reduction in bone density. This is known to increase the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. In 1954, Alan Turing committed suicide by cyanide poisoning.
How far we’ve come!
In 2009 Alan Turing was formally pardoned by the British Government.
It saddens me that it took this long.
Now, the Alan Turing law passed in 2017 in the United Kingdom has retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. When I look at where we are now, I think how far we’ve come since Alan Turing was alive
Progress in Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has progressed at increasingly tremendous speeds.
How have we managed this? Developments in cloud computing allow us to test increasingly complex problems. New applications of this artificial intelligence are becoming evident on an almost daily basis. It’s an inspiring time to be alive.
Progress in rights for LGBTQ rights
More importantly, we have made significant progress in the mission to have equal rights for everyone. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in countries across the world, and gay marriage has been legalized in most of the western world. We celebrate the progress we have made in Pride Celebrations every year.
Still so much to do!
One day a machine will come along that passes the Turing Test without the debate.
More importantly, there are still 76 countries where homosexuality is illegal.
We must continue the fight until everyone has the right to love who they love.
To conclude on the Turing Test and Alan Turing
What is the Turing test?
Otherwise known as the imitation game, in the Turing Test, the interrogator has to guess which of the participants are human and which are machines by asking them a series of questions.
Who was Alan Turing?
Alan Turing was a computer scientist who, working with a team at Bletchley Park, developed a machine to break ciphers by the Enigma Machine. This breakthrough led, in no small part, to the allies defeating the Nazis in WW2.
I hope the story of Alan Turing inspires you as it does me. For me, it serves as a reminder of how we need to learn from the past and also encourages me to what human beings can achieve.
If you want to learn more, I recommend the Imitation Game film as a good place to start.