TED Conversations

Farrukh Yakubov

Student, Purdue University


This conversation is closed.

What question would you ask to identify whether or not you were chatting with a well developed software or a person?

Imagine an experiment where you are asked to chat with one hundred people online, no sound or image, just text. Three of them are actually not real, they an extremely good automated response systems. Your task is to identify those three. You are allowed to ask only one and same question from everyone. People on the other end are specifically chosen such that none of them have similar personality. Programs are also given a unique personality. Only trick is, while you ask questions, programs observe responses of everybody else and may or may not change behavior based on that. What would your question be?

P.S. If you would like to be sure how good is 'extremely good' automated response system in the though experiment above, you may consider it to be the best of such systems you think is possible.


Closing Statement from Farrukh Yakubov

Now that the conversation is over I would like to leave you with more thoughts.

Imagine, this experiment took place and you asked your question, and indicated three of the participants as programs. What if this experiment was not what you thought it was, and after the experiment you were told that 100 participants were all human or all programs, or even a single person answering 100 different ways? What if the purpose of the experiment was not about the capabilities of programs, but about the people - to see how people percieve an intelligent software? Did you think about this possibility?

On the other hand, if the experiment was to test the programs, how effective do you thinki it would be to use this same question of the experiment? i.e. asking "What question would you ask to identify whether or not you were chatting with a well developed software or a person?" from each of the 100 participants.

It is up to you to chose the post experinment scenario, and you would be correct. Because, the experiment can work both ways wether you decide to look at this experiment as an attemp to test programs, or a way of understanding peoples' understanding of programs.

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    Jan 23 2014: Maybe would you send me a postcard? Or, would you mail me a copy of your I.D.? And I'd tell them the reason, that I'm trying to identify who is the person and who the machine, why, because this fellow on TED asked me to.
    • Jan 26 2014: That's unique!
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        Jan 26 2014: well, I think it's cheating on what the conversation host is asking, Elizabeth, because it's not just asking a question, but requesting an action?
        • Jan 29 2014: kind of it is. Then would you care to ask different ones instead, greg?
          Would there be peculiar ways that aren't certainly, quote, "cheating" to tell 'it--the thing you're talking to' is not some sort of a robot?
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        Jan 29 2014: well, there might not be, elizabeth, because I think he's describing a robot that is programmed to answer any question, and to lie. For instance, I could ask it how many times a day it goes to the bathroom, but if it can lie, it could say five or whatever. You or I should ask the guy if the machine is allowed to lie, if it's allowed to lie there may be no question that can differentiate it. If it's not allowed to lie then it would be easy to differentiate it?

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