4i Newsletter Masthead 483

The Turing test.

Four i 483 Turing

On our EA MasterPlan roadshows*, Anton Babkov of Rex software, (without doubt one of best CRM’s for residential estate agency), is speaking about AI and the real impact it’s having, and is going to have, on property marketing and the whole process of selling, buying, letting and renting homes.

He references the Turing test, (which wasn’t something many in our audiences last week had heard of), and hence I’m sharing it here with you today.

Wikipedia summarises the theory really well:

The Turing test, originally called the imitation game by Alan Turing in 1950,[2] is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation was a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel, such as a computer keyboard and screen, so the result would not depend on the machine’s ability to render words as speech.[3] If the evaluator could not reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine would be said to have passed the test. The test results would not depend on the machine’s ability to give correct answers to questions, only on how closely its answers resembled those a human would give.

The test was introduced by Turing in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” while working at the University of Manchester.[4] It opens with the words: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'” Because “thinking” is difficult to define, Turing chooses to “replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words.”[5] Turing describes the new form of the problem in terms of a three-person game called the “imitation game”, in which an interrogator asks questions of a man and a woman in another room in order to determine the correct sex of the two players. Turing’s new question is: “Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?”[2] This question, Turing believed, was one that could actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that “machines can think”.

What I find particularly interesting is how the idea of AI isn’t that new, indeed it can be traced back even further to 1637 when René Descartes wrote ‘Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences’ . But what is causing both excitement and concern in equal measure, is the speed of its development, and this isn’t static, i.e. the speed of advancement is only going to get faster.

Anton summed things up really well: “We can be afraid of what’s coming, or dance with the change.”

*This week the EA MasterPlan roadshows are being held in Cardiff on Wednesday 21st June and Southampton on Thursday 22nd June and there is a handful of places available.

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