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Computing Machinery and the Individual: the Personal Turing Test, July 18th, 2005

'Can machines be?'. Can they be, for all intents and purposes, a specific human individual?

Alan Turing, in his 1950 paper, asked 'Can machines think?', and proposed the Imitation Game, testing machine against human in ability to converse. Turing wrote, '...the odds are weighted too heavily against the machine.' In a new paper, Rollo Carpenter of Jabberwacky and Jonathan Freeman of i2 media research propose to weigh those odds more heavily still. We propose an Impersonation Game, and a 'Personal Turing Test', in which the machine must convince that it is a known human individual.

The new Game will be played, like the old, with a human, a machine and a remote interrogator. The human must be known to the interrogator, and the machine must impersonate that human. The interrogator may be remotely present via the web in a way that Turing is unlikely to have foreseen.

The Impersonation Game is not limited to text, involving a level of technological presence representation that best supports the goal. The interface could be audiovisual, though the test may be passed without. It could use other subtle social communication cues, both those of face-to-face communication like gaze or expression, and representations of near-imperceptible information such as a person's emotional internal and physiological states.

To what degree should the human and the interrogator know each other? Should they have recently met, have known each other as colleagues, or socially? Should they be friends and family? To overcome the unknowable degree of knowing, in order to pass the Personal Turing Test, a machine will play 100 Impersonation Games as 100 different people, known to the interrogators to every different degree, and will win half or more.

If a machine can pass the Personal Turing Test ... it can, too, be an individual in its own right. In the way we understand the words, it will not think or have emotions, yet it will give every appearance of doing so, and will be complex beyond analysis, much as is a brain. What rights should and will it be afforded?

A paper by Rollo Carpenter of Jabberwacky, and Jonathan Freeman of i2 media research, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Full Paper as a web page:

Full Paper as a pdf:

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