|An under-appreciated genius|
Given that the experts struggled -- and still do -- to define intelligence, Turing's insight was (characteristically) brilliant. To wit: don't try to define artificial intelligence; describe its behavior. From which arose the famous Turing Test: if an artificial entity interacting with judges by text messages successfully masquerades as a human at the keyboard, then the entity, too, is intelligent.
|Pay no attention to the computer behind the curtain|
Such imitation served as the basis of many recent headlines. From that Washington Post article:
... a Russian-made program, which disguised itself as a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman from Odessa, Ukraine, bamboozled 33 percent of human questioners. Eugene was one of five supercomputers who entered the 2014 Turing Test.
Doesn't that 33 percent sound precise and scientific? Not so much. There were three judges, meaning one person was convinced. Fooled. That doesn't seem terribly compelling to me.
The Smithsonian took a deeper, more nuanced look at the situation, in "The Turing Test Measures Something, But It's Not "Intelligence": A computer program mimicked human conversation so well that it was mistaken for a real live human, but "machine intelligence" still has a long way to go."
The 2014 Turing Test ran for only five minutes, while "Eugene" hid behind the clever persona of a teenager for whom English was a second language. From that Smithsonian article:
Beyond those highly cogent objections, I'll propose one of my own: the most essential attribute of what we humans consider intelligence is purposeful volition. However realistically a mechanism, hardware and/or software, responds to stimuli, it's absurd to consider that mechanism to be "intelligent" if, left to itself, it only spins its mental wheels.
How and why do evolved minds initiate actions? What is free will? What is self-awareness? Alas, no one knows. My suspicion is that -- somehow -- volition is (a) an emergent property of (b) a very large ensemble of quantum states. Within physics as it is presently understood, only quantum mechanics offers any basis for non-determinism.
Alas (as per an earlier article from the Washington Post, "Why quantum mechanics is an “embarrassment” to science"), despite almost a century of effort, physicists still fail to agree what quantum mechanics means. The plurality opinion of a recent survey -- of thirty-three experts -- was: don't ask. The math works.
|Image credit: Scientific Instruments|
Suppose that, someday, our technological toolbox grows to include large-scale quantum computing. (That day may be awhile coming. See, from PhysicsWorld.com, "Is D-Wave's quantum computer actually a quantum computer?") Then, perhaps, an entity will arise with a credible possibility of demonstrating intelligence rather than trickery and mimicry.
Won't that make for an exciting headline?