A team based in Russia has developed a program that has passed the iconic Turing Test. The test was carried out at the Royal Society in London, and was able to convince 33 percent of the judges that it was a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman.
The Turing Test was developed by [Alan Turing] in 1950 as an existence proof for intelligence: if a computer can fool a human operator into thinking it’s human, then by definition the computer must be intelligent. It should be noted that [Turing] did not address what intelligence was, but only tried to identify human like behavior in a machine.
Thirty years later, a philosopher by the name of [John Searle] pointed out that even a machine that could pass the Turing Test would still not be intelligent. He did this through a fascinating thought experiment called “The Chinese Room“.
Consider an English speaking man sitting at a desk in a small room with a slot in one of the walls. At his desk is a book with instructions, written in English, on how to manipulate, sort and compare Chinese characters. Also at his desk are pencils and scratch paper. Someone from the outside pushes a piece of paper through the slot. On the paper is a story and a series of questions, all written in Chinese. The man is completely ignorant of the Chinese language, and has no understanding whatsoever of what the paper means.
So he toils with the book and the paper, carrying out the instructions from the book. After much scribbling and erasing, he completes the instructions from the book, with the last instruction telling him to push the paper back out of the slot.
Outside the room, a Chinese speaker reads the paper. The answers to the questions about the story are all correct, even insightful. She comes to the conclusion that the mind in the room is intelligent. But is she right? Who understood the story? Certainly not the man in the room, he was just following instructions. So where did the understanding occur? Searle argues that indeed, no understanding did occur. The man is the CPU, mindlessly executing instructions. The book is the software, the scratch paper memory. Thus no matter the design of a computer to simulate intelligence by producing the same behavior as a human, it can not be considered truly intelligent.
Let us know you thoughts about this below. Do you think the Eugene Goostman program is intelligent? Why/why not?