The A-Z of AI

Turing test

A famous test that posed the question: ‘Can machines think?’

The Turing test has a simple premise: if a human being can have a five minute conversation without realising they’re talking to a machine, the computer passes the test.

Invented in 1950 by pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, the test laid the foundations for what we now call AI, by asking whether it was possible for a machine to imitate human thought.

Simply because a system can retrieve an answer that sounds like understanding, doesn’t mean it understands.

Interestingly, many of the successful systems to date could convince someone that they were talking to a person, not with convincing human conversation but by throwing in spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. The skills required to appear human and pass the test are not necessarily linked with ‘intelligence’ and ‘thinking’.

Nevertheless, Turing’s test led many scientists and engineers to consider what makes us inherently human and inspired AI design teams everywhere to strive for computer systems that interact in more natural, human-like ways.