What Question Would Turing Pose Today?

Barbara Grosz


In 1950, when Turing proposed to replace the question "Can machines think?" with the question "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?" computer science was not yet a field of study, Shannon’s theory of information had just begun to change the way people thought about communication, and psychology was only starting to look beyond behaviorism. It is stunning that so many predictions in Turing’s 1950 Mind paper were right. In the decades since that paper appeared, with its inspiring challenges, research in computer science, neuroscience, and the behavioral sciences has radically changed thinking about mental processes and communication, and the ways in which people use computers has evolved even more dramatically. Turing, were he writing now, might still replace "Can machines think?" with an operational challenge, but it is likely he would propose a very different test. This paper considers what that might be in light of Turing’s paper and advances in the decades since it was written.

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