What Happens After The Turing Test…When Machines Think?
Nearly 60 years after his tragic suicide, World War II cipher-slayer and mathematical visionary Alan Turing made headlines across the Internet on the 100-year anniversary of his birth.
Turing was no ordinary genius mathematician.
Unlike most young men his age, Turing published a landmark paper in 1936 containing the logical and mathematical basis for the workings of all modern computational devices. And as if fathering the discipline of computer science weren’t enough, Turing is also famed for his prescient thinking on an enduring question: can machines think?
Ten years ago, when my Internet still made funny noises, my answer would have been “no.” Recent technological developments however, are making unprecedented strides toward passing what’s come to be known as the “Turing Test.”
Turing believed humanity will have crossed a threshold and created true artificial intelligence when catching up with Siri, your Icelandic friend, becomes indistinguishable from chatting with Siri, the iPhone. As members of an era so completely enthralled by increasingly interactive technologies, this is an area of inquiry which requires further exploration.
If the Matrix trilogy, I, Robot, and four seasons of Battlestar Galactica have taught me anything, it’s that AI tends to spell doom for humanity. Our rush to complete the Turing Test and actualize our own science fiction has left little time to plan what happens once the race is over.
While I won’t go so far as to prophesize a sentient toaster rebellion (yet), I will say that Turing’s memory should prompt some collective introspection.
As we pause to thank this man for his contribution to our digital world, we ought to adopt his foresight and ask ourselves deeper questions about where the technological future will take us.
Otherwise we’d better figure out how to please our iLords.
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