Is the Computer Really Smarter?

Watson may have triumphed at Jeopardy!, but Brian Christian examines computer intelligence more closely in the Atlantic. Christian recently participated in the Turing Test: “I will sit down at a computer and have a series of five-minute instant-message chats with several strangers. At the other end of these chats will be a psychologist, a linguist, a computer scientist, and the host of a popular British technology show. Together they form a judging panel, evaluating my ability to do one of the strangest things I’ve ever been asked to do. I must convince them that I’m human. Fortunately, I?am human; unfortunately, it’s not clear how much that will help.” Every year, the artificial-intelligence community gathers for a Turing Test — the winning (i.e. “Most Human Computer”) computer is awarded the Loebner Prize. The winning human, on the other hand, receives another prize: “Most Human Human award.” [%comments]

Gaurav Sehgal

Well Computer can and will eventually beat the best of us in logical and analytical computing as it was designed to do just that... but humans have other intelligence with them also such as reasoning which is not always logical for example can computer replace a judge or jury....


I remember reading some years ago that one way to figure out if a spy was just trying to pretend to be American was to ask questions like "What do M&Ms do" ("Melt in your mouth, not in your hands.")

If I were a questioner for the Turing Test, I would ask something like, "Will you please use the following words to make a short story?" Then give several unrelated words (e.g., Armageddon, Scarlett O'Hara, and the Green Bay Packers, etc.). A computer might toss out sentences related to each one, but it would be doubtful that it could consistently come up with something cohesive.


AaronS - that particular test fails. Computers do quite well at making cohesive stories in that particular manner. There are competitions in that regard and the stories are remarkably interesting. You get some weird results sometimes, but you'd get a pretty weird result if you asked me to make a story involving those three things. :-)


But to AaronS's point, while a computer could make a story cohesive perhaps, it probably could not make something *funny*. (Armageddon, Scarlett O'Hara and the Green Bay Packers sounds like the start of a pretty funny story to me.) Watson may be able to answer quiz-show questions, but he can't crack a joke.

Joshua Northey

I love Turing Tests, they are so fun!


"You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It's crawling toward you..."

"What's a tortoise?"


How about questions with very poor context?

"Where do you lay your hat?"
"What's your M.O.?"
"How do you get your kicks?"
"Who's your daddy?"


Re #4: "...while a computer could make a story cohesive perhaps, it probably could not make something *funny*."

Well, nor could I :-)

Troy underwood

Picard will always be a better captain than Data. Kirk will always be a better captain than Spock.


i hadn't heard about the turing test until i read this blog and it sounds extremely interesting. It made me think, how could i convince someone im human? Alot harder than it sounds.


Although we may think that computers are able to think faster than any human being, what they, the computers aren't capable of is connecting dots on their own. They are all programmed and cannot create without the command of doing so. Watson may have triumphed overall in the jeopardy games, but there is still a long way for computers to go in order for us to fear them and their intelligence. Afterall, its just stored knowledge.

Tori Brooks

Who really cares? We know that computers compute but do not show emotion like humans do. Do we really need a test to tell us that? No.