Turing Test: a key contribution to the field of Artificial Intelligence

Turing Test

Alan Turing, pioneer of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence, recently had his birthday. The great theorist who developed Turing Test would have turned 104 years on this 23rd June 2016.


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Alan Turing, the man who was much ahead of his time, started toiling on the thought whether machines can think. In 1950, a time when the computers had just come into being, and the term Artificial intelligence was not even coined and we had Alan already thinking if a machine could think like a human.

A thought needs to be backed by evidence and Turing knew this very well. Hence, Alan Turing published a paper in 1950 in which he suggested an idea or a test called ‘The Imitation Game’, today known as the Turing Test. The idea behind this test was to check if machines have intelligence or not.

After modifications, Turing proposed the Imitation Game where there would be two contestants, one human (of either gender) and one computer. And there would be a judge or an interrogator whose job would be to decide which of the two contestants is human and which one of them is a machine. He would do this by asking a series of questions to the contestants. Hence in this game if the accuracy of the Judge was less than 50% then it meant that he is likely to pick either of them. This would suggest that a computer is a quite good simulation of human and therefore intelligent.

The Turing test has recently been modified to one contestant which could be either human or machine and the interrogator has to make a decision for the single contestant whether the contestant is a human or machine.

At a time when Turing proposed this test, there were hardly any believers for it but if we see today around us, Artificial Intelligence does exist. In the recent time AI has garnered so much importance and every industry in their own way is trying to use AI, be it Banking or Information technology or Sports or Education. A simplest illustration of AI being used would be apps like Siri, Cortana or Google Now. These apps are assisted by AI and have become an integral part of our everyday lives.

The Turing Test proposed by Alan Turing has been one of his best works and it has been a significant contribution to the field of Artificial Intelligence. He got the ball rolling for Artificial Intelligence by bringing up the thought that machines too can be intelligent.

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Manisha Salecha
Manisha is a Senior Content Analyst with Analytics India Magazine. Apart from writing & editing articles and taking interviews, she is also responsible for covering analytics news, and handling social media for AIM. She can be contacted on manisha.salecha@analyticsindiamag.com.

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