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Alan Turing (Photo by the BBC)

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The Turing Test






What is machine intelligence? Can computers think for themselves?

A.M. Turing, mathematician, code breaker, philosopher and one of the founders of computer science, postulated a paper in the 1950 edition of "Mind" that set the bar for determining whether a computer can be regarded by another human being as intelligent.

Intelligence, in the fundamental human sense, can be defined as the ability to solve problems, especially unusual or unknown problems. Various sociological studies have established that intelligence cannot be merely defined by one's ability to surmount a new puzzle that arises.

Definitions for intelligence have been categorized in myriad of contemporary sociological situations - one's artistic and creative abilities, interpersonal skills, linear and non-linear thinking, spatial reasonings, writing ability, mathematical aptitude and others.

Essentially, Alan Turing intended to explore the question of how a digital computer might achieve an "intelligence" by its ability to fool our intelligence within a particular context.

He wrote: "It is proposed that a machine may be deemed intelligent, if it can act in such a manner that a human cannot distinguish the machine from another human merely by asking questions via a mechanical link."

In English, that pretty much means a machine would demonstrate human-level intelligence, therefore passing Turing's Test by overcoming certain obstacles.

The players: A computer, a human foil and a judge. By talking about a wide range of subjects that include art, science, nature and personal experience, the judge tries to tell who's who - man or machine. To fool the judge is to pass the test.

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