The Ultimate Turing Test
By David Barberi, 1992
What is the ultimate Turing Test?
In 1950 Alan Turing published his now famous paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." In that paper he describes a method for humans to test AI programs. In its most basic form, a human judge sits at a computer terminal and interacts with the subject by written communication only. The judge must then decide if the subject on the other end of the computer link is a human or an AI program imitating a human.
Can Turings test be improved on? Yes. With current advances in computer graphics, virtual reality, biomechanics and many other fields, it is possible to create an "Enhanced" or "Virtual" Turing test. The underlying idea of the test is still the same, but the amount of interaction between judge and subject is increased greatly.
How would this Virtual Turing Test work? The first step is to create a 'world' for the judge and subject to inhabit. ('World' is a Virtual Reality term that signifies a shared electronic space, or cyberspace, where everyone immersed in it has the ability to interact with everything else in the world) With current technology this may require the judge to wear a bodysuit, gloves, and eyephones. In the future, such bulky methods of entering cyberspace will be replaced by more natural and unobtrusive means, such as a direct neural interface.
When the judge is immersed into the Virtual Turing Test world all his sensual stimulations are produced by the computer. The judge sees a three dimensional, high resolution computer graphic image of this new world from the viewpoint of his virtual twin. Inside this world the subject and various physical objects reside (let us say 2 chairs, a table, some cups, and a steaming pot of tea). The judge can sit at the chair, grab a cup and feel the texture of the cup against his hand by use of tactile response material next to his skin. The judge can change his viewpoint by getting up and walking around. If he drops the cup on the floor, it will shatter and a suitable sound will emerge from the three dimensional coordinates where the cup landed. For all extents and purposes, when he judge is immersed in the Virtual Turing Test the outside world does not exist.
Sitting across from the judge will be the subject, a computer graphic image of a human being. The judge will not know if the subjects actions are controlled by another human or a suitably advanced computer simulation. The subject could be someone in the next room wearing the same equipment that the judge is wearing, and immersed in the same world that the judge is in. It is the judges role to test the subject and decide if it is human or not.
If the subject is a human the computer will copy every movement the subject makes, every sound that they produce, every facial expression, every hand gesture, every eye movement. When the subject talks, the sound will originate from the mouth of the subjects virtual copy.
If the subject is a simulation then the computer will control every aspect of the subject. The simulation must be able to speak and interact with the judge in every way that the a human subject would. If the judge reaches across the table to slap the subject in the head, the simulation will realize this and dodge out of the way, much like any human would do. The simulation will be able to interact with the virtual environment in every way that the judge can. If the judge politely asks the subject to pour them both a cup of tea, this physical interaction will be no problem for the simulation.
The core of the simulation must control three basic items: comphrehensive communication with the judge, correct biomechanical movement, and awareness of its environment.
The last of these items is the simplest. The computer already knows where every object is in the virtual world. It can easily calculate what 2 images would enter the simulations eyes from whatever viewpoint it happens to be at. Of course, the control program should not allow the simulation to know more then it should. If the Judge is holding a book behind his back and the simulation has not 'seen' the book yet, then, even through the control program knows where and what the book is, it will not pass this information to the simulation until the book comes into its field of view. The second item, correct biomechanical movement, deals with the way humans move. It is impossible for a normal human to bend his elbow past a certain point. The simulation will follow all the physical limitations that the human body has. It may not create a new arm or leg if needed, it may not turn it's head around 360 degrees, it may not fly into the air by flapping its arms, etc. This aspect of the simulation, while by no means trivial, can be created with the biomechanical data available today. The last, and hardest, item is comphrehensive communications. By comphrehensive we are not only talking about spoken words, but also the wealth of non-verbal cues that humans use. Such things that we take for granted, such as hand gestures, gaze of the eyes, position of the limbs, and facial gestures are all examples of non-verbal communications. It is the simulations job to use both verbal and non-verbal communications to make the judge think it is acting in a very 'human' way.
How does this Virtual Turing Test compare to Turings original test? We have replaced the limited communications allowed by two connected computer terminals with a comphrehensive environment of sight, sound and body. We allow the judge to base his decision not only on written words, but on spoken speech, non-verbal cues, and body movement.
The test still holds to the spirit of the original. There is still a human judge that must use his intelligence and savvy to test the subject. Like the original test, the judge has no way of telling if the subject is human or not until he interacts with it. Like the original test, the goal of the computer is to create a simulation of human action so realistic that not even other humans can tell the difference.
The technology exists today to hold a simplistic Virtual Turing Test. As more research and work is put into Virtual Reality, AI, and biomechanics, a suitably advanced human simulation can, and will, be produced.
(c) copyright 1992 by David Barberi
Cites, Links, Copies:
Reader Comments so far:
very nice description of A. Turing general work. Exceptional intro to VR and the t test combined. Other respondent print is idiocy. tnx
I am not a specialist on the subject but i believe the purpose of a turing test is not to recognize human beings, we have eyes ears and some other natural usefull features that makes virtual reallity unnecessary for that, but to detect or more precisely to test remote systems (biological or not) for advanced intelligence.
This cannot be done in a virtual reallity environment as you proposed it since a system gifted of advanced intelligence do not necessarly have a human like body, he might not even have any body at all (e.g. AI). But what is advanced intelligence ? Well the first things we should look for are (innrandom order as i haven't really thougt about which are the most importance) Self-conciousness, Curiosity, Will to survive.
Send your comments to: turing.test(at)barberi(dot)com
Talk to Eliza