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Data Processing Objection | Argument from Consciousness | Mechanical Objection | Key Flaw of the Turing Test

The Turing Test

Alan Turing poses his variation on the Imitation Game thus:

"It is played with three people, a man (A), a woman (B), and an interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The interrogator stays in a room apart front the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman. He knows them by labels X and Y, and at the end of the game he says either 'X is A and Y is B' or 'X is B and Y is A.' The interrogator is allowed to put questions to A and B...

We now ask the question, "What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game?" Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original, 'Can machines think?' " (Turing)

All qualities such as appearance and tone of voice are ignored, so as to make the two competitors indistinguishable in all respects but their responses. Turing states that "We do not wish to penalise the machine for its inability to shine in beauty competitions, nor to penalise a man for losing in a race against an aeroplane," (Turing) implying that his test examines solely the area in which people and computers can reasonably and appropriately compete: in the mind. His test seeks to isolate the intellectual capacities of a person in order to show that a machine capable of passing the test is indistinguishable from, and therefore equal (at least intellectually) to the person.

There have been several objections to the reasoning of Turing's conclusion, the most enduring of which are "Data Processing Objection", the "Argument from Consciousness", and the "Mechanical Objection." These objections, and Turing's responses to them, lay the groundwork for the current attitude toward the Turing Test.