TED Conversations

Farrukh Yakubov

Student, Purdue University


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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 26 2014: I would ask: "Considering the rumor that your mother sleeps around a lot, how many sweaty gardeners did she sleep with yesterday if she slept with 3 at midday and 2 at 5 pm?"
    If your answer is 5 you're speaking to a robot.
    • Jan 27 2014: Wow... trick him with the math questions nicely done...
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        Jan 27 2014: Lol.
        Yes. The promiscuous mother taunt is clearly a diversion.
        While the robot is processing a 'human' response to the emotive question, it will conclude it does not have a mother and will be so overcome with programmed emotion that a calculation error is bound to occur.
    • Jan 27 2014: Unless the robot has been programmed to recognize that people dislike the idea of their mothers being promiscuous and is programmed to respond accordingly.

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