The Complete Guide to The Turing Test

What is the Turing Test: Complete Explanation

The Turing Test was invented by famed mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing. The goal of the test is meant to test AI or artificial intelligence. Originally known as the “imitation game,” the goal of the test is to level thinking in computer programs or artificial intelligence (AI). If a computer is indistinguishable from a human being, it is believed to have passed the test. Ultimately, the purpose of the test is to determine if computers – and specifically artificial intelligence – have reached the point that it can replicate human thinking. 

The test was meant to determine whether or not computers can think like humans and convenience humans of their newfound powers. However, it is often expressed in a test of whether or not a computer can converse with a human in a simple conversation, thus foolish the human into thinking that it is talking with a computer.

Alan Turing was a mathematician, computer scientist, codebreaker, and philosopher.

The Turing Test: Advantages and Disadvantages

The Turing Test comes with many advantages. By using humans to judge human intelligence, one can assume that the judges are good representatives of human intelligence. Furthermore, as long as control procedures are adequate, and the other “participant” is properly hidden, the test eliminates the possibility of bias. It is also worth noting that newer examples of the test have evolved past what Turing himself initially proposed, measuring not just whether or not a computer can hold a conversation, but if a computer can convince a human that it actually thinks like a human. 

On the other hand, the test is by no means a fool-proof method of measuring artificial intelligence. The idea that artificial intelligence – a relatively abstract concept – can be measured a quiz is something that has been scoffed at for years. Critics of the Turing Test have noted that it only seems to measure one kind of intelligence – human intelligence. As such, if a computer is actually MORE intelligent than a human, it may not be accurately measured. Furthermore, the reliability of the test is subject to question: If a pool of judges is skewed, that can ultimately skew the results of the test. This lack of reliability may also mean that judges will be more sensitive to certain factors, such as culture or nationality, that may be unrelated to a computer’s accurate artificial intelligence level. 

The Turing Test: An Exact Definition

The Turing Test is an inquiry, judged by humans, to determine whether or not a computer can fool humans into thinking like other humans. 

How Does The Turing Test Work?

There are many applications of the test. However, they would all work essentially the same way. A human judge would be placed in one room, or in a walled-off area, where they would not be able to tell who or what they were communicating with. That judge would then have a conversation with a computer or person. They would ask that computer or person a series of questions that would be meant to determine its intelligence levels. 

At the conclusion of the test, the Judge would be asked if what they were talking to was a person or computer. If it was a computer, and the Judge believed it was a person than that computer would be deemed to have passed it.

That’s the simplistic version of the Turing Test, but the full version is much more complicated. For example, fooling one person would not necessarily mean that a computer screen passed the Turing Test – instead, tests are generally believed to have been passed if they convince a majority of jurors. Furthermore, there are many types of Turing Tests, including CAPTCHAs and Reverse Turing Tests. A computer may be able to pass some types of tests – but not all of them. As such, it is difficult to determine just when a computer has truly passed the test. 

captcha check box
CAPTCHA is one type of Turing Test to determine whether a human or a computer is attempting to access a website.

How Do You Create A Turing Test?

This test is a concept, rather than a set series of rules, and there is no official body that determines whether or not an individual has created a Turing Test. However, in order to create one, an individual or group would need:

  • A set series of rules that could be adhered to by both the human and computer participants.
  • Physical locations and all necessary that would allow an individual to judge the Turing Test.
  • A computer program that was advanced enough to imitate human thought. 

Furthermore, procedures would have to be generated to demonstrate internal validity. Internal validity is the idea that the only thing which would determine a Judge’s decision about whether or not someone they were taking the test with was human or computer was the intelligence level of the participants, not another factor. 

Where Did The Turing Test Originate From?

Alan Turing is the creator of his namesake test. In addition to being the creator of many applications of this test, Alan Turing is a pioneer of the Artificial Intelligence field. He had been studying the field since the 1940s, and in 1950, he began to write about the concept of AI or artificial intelligence.

The first known use of the “Turing Test” began in 1952. Turing based it off of the “imitation game,” a popular party game during that time period. In the “imitation game,” a man and a woman would go into separate rooms and try to convenience guests that they were each other, based solely on the content of their answers. Turing became the creator of the test after he twisted the imitation game into a test on artificial intelligence, substituting the man and the woman for a machine. 

What Are the Applications of The Turing Test?

There are many applications of the Turing Test.

Chief among them, of course, is measuring exactly what Alan Turing proposed: Just how advanced computer AI had become. If the Turing Test is assumed to be an accurate measure of the advancement of a computer’s artificial intelligence, then the idea of a computer passing the Turing Test would represent a remarkable turning point in human advancement: For the first time, a computer would be assumed to be as advanced as a human.

However, the applications are broader than that. Depending on what a person was actually measuring and on the specific nature of the Turing Test, it could be used to judge whether or not a computer was able to not only fool a human during a conversation but whether or not a computer had gained the ability to think in a more contextual matter. For example, advanced versions of the Turing Test have come out that are more based on a computer’s ability to read and understand sentences that are typically only understood by humans. These tests, called Winograd Schemas, represent another facet of intelligence. If an AI ever reaches the point that it can pass these schemas, it will mark another turning point in the advancement of AI.

Furthermore, the test has applications for cyber security. This is seen in CAPTCHA programs, which require a human to answer them. In passing this type of Turing Test, a computer program – and the humans behind that program – can ensure that only humans, not malicious programs, access their software. 

Examples of The Turing Test in the Real World?

The Turing Test is not a set test – it’s more of a concept. However, there are many versions of The Turing Test. They include:

  • A quiz in which a person will ask the opposite participant several questions. This quiz often ask abstract or emotional questions, and the answers to these questions will often be judged based on the context of the answers. 
  • CAPTCHA programs, which require a human to answer a question based on images. As of yet, CAPTCHA tests are not breakable by computers, and they are used by many websites as a sort of Turing gatekeeper. 

Many of these tests can be taken online, and these online tests can be taken by humans or computer programs that these individuals have created. Indeed, online Turing Tests are regularly taken by humans who are attempting to access certain websites or download software in order to prevent automated computer programs from accessing sensitive information. CAPTCHA tests are one such example.

You can even download some Turing Tests on Steam, the online software platform. Steam is also the host for downloadable video games inspired by the Turing Test, and you can purchase this game from Steam for $19.99. 

More from author

Related posts

Latest posts

Bell Labs: A Complete Guide — History, Products, Founding, and More

The History of Bell Labs: What to Know Bell Laboratories is a legendary company in the technology research world. From its inception, Bell Labs has...

The Complete Guide to Moore’s Law

What Is Moore’s Law? - Complete Explanation In 1965, Gordon Moore, an American engineer who went on to co-found Intel, hypothesized that the modern pace...

QLED vs OLED: Full Comparison

QLED Vs. OLED: The Key Differences Explained Although these two acronyms look almost exactly alike, the difference between QLED and OLED is an important question...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!