Subcognition and the limits of the Turing test


Journal Article


French, R. M.




Subcognition and the limits of the Turing test

Journal / book / conference



The imitation game originally proposed by Alan Turing provides a very powerful means of probing human-like cognition. But when the Test is actually used as a real test for intelligence, as certain philosophers propose, its very strength becomes a weakness. Turing invented the imitation game only as a novel way of looking at the question "Can machines think ?". But it turns out to be so powerful that it is really asking : "Can machines think exactly like human beings ?". As a real test for intelligence, the latter question is significantly less interesting than the former. The Turing Test provides a sufficient condition for human intelligence but does not address the more important issue of intelligence in general. I have tried to show that only a computer that had acquired adult human intelligence by experiencing the world as we have could pass the Turing Test. In addition, I feel that any attempt to "fix" the Turing Test so that it could test for intelligence in general and not just human intelligence is doomed to failure because of the completely interwoven and inter-dependent nature of the human physical, subcognitive and cognitive levels. To gain insight into intelligence, we will be forced to consider it in the more elusive terms of the ability to categorize, to generalize, to make analogies, to learn, and so on. It is with respect to these abilities that the computer will always be unmasked if it has not experienced the world as a human being has.








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