A recent feature in Wired.com looks at the prevalence of AI’s today, and at some of the recent developments within information technology, to determine whether the Turing Test can be tackled anytime soon. Artificial intelligence, defined as a program that can make a determination based on information and then execute it, is used ubiquitously today in ways that one probably wouldn’t even consider. GPS navigational systems, web browser search algorithms, stock trading algorithms and automated customer service programs are all examples of AI. In addition, two interrelated advances in information systems technology have pushed us closer to crossing the Turing threshold. One is the availability of enormous stores of raw data; from streamed video and audio to text conversations and technical documents. The second is the improved processing power necessary to analyze and utilize these staggering amounts of data.
However, simply warehousing vast amounts of analyzed data doesn’t begin to recreate the human mind, because connections between data follows a structure of logic. If people are anything, it’s impulsive, erratic, emotional, and anything but logical. Instead, those concerned with creating a human-like conversation AI focus on probability, rather than logical connections; on, “calculating probabilities and producing complex behavior from the interaction of many small, simple processes.”
The result, at least at the moment, is something of a shady mockery of human communication. Attempting to find the kinds of tangential ideas, social and cultural variables, and relational cues that are an inherent part of human conversation is one of the biggest difficulties in recreating human speech. An open ended question or creative request can “break” a conversation AI (or chatbot). These shortcomings are readily apparent when you attempt to place two chatboxes together in a conversation (see the video below).
To gauge how far we truly are from a true AI, consider what simply passing the Turing Test actually accomplishes…a vague approximation of human conversation. It’s still mimickry, albeit an intricate and subtle one, of what people are able to accomplish. Even assuming that some AI is able to recreate human conversation, the distance between that and an approximation of something like human ingenuity, or creativity, is still a very long way off.