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Danger Lampost

Futurist & Technology Consultant,


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What would make a good Turing Test for the Soul?

In the movie "2001, A Space Odyssey", Stanley Kubrick presents us with the HAL-9000 computer with a seemingly human like consciousness. This question pre-supposes that we will be able to create a computing device of a similar sort that would behave to all the world like a human consciousness.

What it feels like to be this consciousness is an interesting question. You could ask it and listen to what it says. Could you trust what it says though?

Alan Turing devised a deviously clever test: You'd sit someone down at a keyboard and ask them to converse with a personality on the other side, and solely through the conversation, determine whether they are talking with a piece of software or a real human.

Let's say we have succeeded in building such a software system that could pass the Turing Test and fool any and all questioners - impossible to differentiate from a real human solely based on the conversation.

Let's kick it up a notch now and ask: What test could you devise to determine whether the software system had a soul? Or to put it another way for effect, what evidence might you present to a court of law to argue that pulling the plug on such a software system was tantamount to murder? Suppose *you* were this software system, arguing with a court of law that they should not pull the plug on you. What arguments would you make?


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    Mar 30 2013: Would you say the, that if an entity, human or otherwise, could convince the U.S. Supreme Court that they were talking to another human, that that entity had a soul?
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        Mar 31 2013: Did you perhaps mean to reply to a different comment? I'm confused about your reply, as you said SOUL = MIND and you replied to a comment that, as far as a can see, does not reference "mind"?

        I am saddened you feel I "summarily ignored" you - I read what you wrote with real interest (and thank you for taking the time). However, as far as I can see, you did not propose any Turing Test for the Soul.

        I believe what you have said, if I understand it properly, is that this is not a valid question because "artificial intelligence...can not generate life." However, you provided no justification for your position, as far as I can see.
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        Mar 31 2013: Awesome reply, thank you.

        I seems you do not believe that artificial intelligence can ever have a soul. You keep stating that in different ways. However, I do not believe you have provided any justification for your position. I could talk at length about knowledge management systems, and medical diagnostic systems, and we could get into the weeds on the data->information->knowledge->wisdom paradigm, but I suspect that would not be a fruitful conversation.

        Would you please provide a justification for your position that an artificial intelligence could never have a soul? I understand your concept of what a human soul is, but you have not explained why an artificial intelligence can not have this?

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