Amazon head scientist says Turing test is no longer relevant

Posted on Thursday, Dec 31 2020 @ 10:16 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
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In 1950, British mathematician Alan Turing came up with the "Turing test", a method of determining whether a respondent is human or a computer. Since that time, technological progress has been immense and AI has become a part of our lives. Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist of Alexa at Amazon, now writes that the Turing test is obsolete. In a piece written for FastCompany, Prasad argues it's time to come up with a new barometer for artificial intelligence.

Not because AI these days is almost undistinguishable from a human. In fact, AI has evolved less quickly than Turing predicted. Turing believed an average human would have les than a 70 percent chance of distinguishing an AI from a human in an imitation game -- but in 2020 we haven't hit that level yet. Prasad argues AI is more about being useful and not about being human-like:
Why haven’t we as an industry been able to achieve that goal, 20 years past that mark? I believe the goal put forth by Turing is not a useful one for AI scientists like myself to work toward. The Turing Test is fraught with limitations, some of which Turing himself debated in his seminal paper. With AI now ubiquitously integrated into our phones, cars, and homes, it’s become increasingly obvious that people care much more that their interactions with machines be useful, seamless and transparent—and that the concept of machines being indistinguishable from a human is out of touch. Therefore, it is time to retire the lore that has served as an inspiration for seven decades, and set a new challenge that inspires researchers and practitioners equally.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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