Examining the implications of the supercomputer Eugene Goostman passing Alan Turing's test for artificial intelligence

8 Questions Regarding Computer Program Eugene Goostman’s Passage of the Turing Test

June 09, 2014 / by , / 6 Comments

According to the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, a computer has reportedly achieved artificial intelligence for the first time by passing the Turing Test after convincing 33 percent of human judges that it was human.

The computer program, dubbed “Eugene Goostman,” passed the 65-year-old test developed by mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing by simulating the dialogue of a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy. No computer program before Eugene had ever passed the test, which requires judges to mistake a computer for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard exchanges.

According to co-creator Vladimir Veselov, the supposed age of Eugene may have helped to boost his perceived “humanness.” As Veselov noted, “Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything.”

While the achievement of Veselov and his Ukrainian partner Eugene Demchenko is impressive, it nonetheless raises a number of questions regarding artificial intelligence in our contemporary age:

–Is a 13-year-old boy really our benchmark standard for exhibiting unique human intelligent behavior? Because speaking from my own anecdotal experience with seventh and eighth graders, I don’t think that anything those monsters do comes anywhere close to what most humans would recognize as intelligent behavior, unless constant masturbation and listening to Good Charlotte qualify as exhibitions of human thought. Seriously, is it that hard to replicate the mental processes of most adolescent boys? Here’s my attempt: “Boobs, sports, Eragon, should I put pegs on my bike?, boobs, Chris Johnson is such a dickwad, I should totally put pegs on my bike, boobs, boobs, Skyrim, maybe if I wear this Aeropostale polo I can touch some boobs, Mountain Dew Baja Blast, OTPHJs, booooooooobs.” Can I accept a knightship from the Royal Society in London now?

–How does the computer respond to questions with heavy moral implications? What does Eugene Goostman say when you ask him “Fuck, marry, kill — Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Reagan, Nancy Grace”? I understand a computer can be programmed to do a lot of things, but unless this pile of wires can make a snap decision between getting to murder Nancy Grace and avoiding the curse of sticking his artificial porksword in Nancy Reagan’s unsavory lady parts, I’m not impressed. Furthermore, is this “artificially intelligent” being developed enough to look for loopholes, like “I would marry Nancy Reagan pre-1965” or “I would fuck Nancy Pelosi, but only if Harry Reid is forced to watch”? Until these questions are answered, I’m unimpressed.

–What are Eugene Goostman’s opinions on the developing Ukrainian crisis? Following the deposition of Ukrianian president Viktor Yanukovych and the subsequent Russian-backed invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, what does Eugene think about the legality of the region’s cession to the Russian Federation? As an ethnic Ukrainian boy, was Eugene more perturbed by the revolution convulsing throughout Kiev, or Russia’s militaristic sword-rattling of dubious international legality? Assuming Eugene is properly programmed to respond like a 13-year-old, he probably just made a fart noise in his hands and called Putin a dick-brained poopyhead.

–How will Eugene’s victory affect the online adult entertainment advertising industry? Does this mean that pornhub will be able to find me hot single moms in my zip code with pinpoint accuracy? Personally, we can’t wait to see her 2, Spike Jonze’s comedy-drama sequel where Ron Jeremy’s penis achieves sentience and reveals all of its secrets to adding three inches to your dick.

–Can we discuss the gruesome and tragic details surrounding Turing Test founder Alan Turing? Why yes, of course we can. Turing was a foundational figure in the study of computer science and the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence from the late 1930s until the early 1950s. He was a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and philosopher who helped break German ciphers during World War II–basically he was that guy from the Apple Commercials who plays a nerd in Live Free Or Die Hard, but way cooler–and also gay. Despite his contribution to the war effort, in 1952 Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality and charged with gross indecency under legislation dating back to 1885. Turing underwent hormonal treatment designed to reduce his libido–similar treatment, in fact, to the “reparative therapy introduced recently as part of the Texas GOP’s platform–which rendered him impotent and suffering from gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue that would have made him bustier than Chris Christie). Turing was found dead of cyanide poisoning on June 8, 1954, possibly after consuming a poisoned apple. Turing may have created the most simple and efficient standard for artificial intelligence, but unfortunately the man fell victim to some of the most profoundly unintelligent human standards of our time.

–Just out of mere curiosity, how were these questions presented to Eugene? My inclination is to guess that since Eugene is a 13-year-old boy, people just dropped him some questions through AIM. But what about Honesty Box? Or maybe the questioners just shot him some texts on his Motorola RAZR®? Has science evolved to the point where we can just DM supercomputers on their Instagram account to see if they’re human or not? However he answered them, chances are the agreement allowed him to play to at least two checkpoints on Halo 3 between each question.

–What does it say about society that we chose a male supercomputer with a male name? Is Eugene fully cognisant of the gender stereotypes that oppress him? Have we considered that maybe he doesn’t want to be called Eugene, because it’s a one-gendered name that forces him to adhere to an established binary? If this is really the 21st century, why aren’t we behaving like it?

–If Eugene were to have an affliction like ADHD, for example, would testing procedures be adjusted to fit his needs? It’s not fair to just ignore a disability that has been proven by science. Assuming Eugene was properly diagnosed, someone really ought to make sure that Eugene has at least 1.5x the normal allotment of time given to supercomputers for the Turing Test, as well a steady supply of healthy snacks and beverages. And who’s to say that any standardized test can objectively measure the unique intelligence of our artificially intelligent adolescent children? The Turing Test, like many of its counterparts, carries with it a remarkable amount of cultural bias, relying on references and systems of thinking that only pertain to those from certain socioeconomic backgrounds.

You can chat with Eugene Goostman online here.