Monday, May 14, 2007, 3:42 AM

The Turing Event

A few (10~15) years from now, I will get a phone call from my friend's assistant requesting that since we have not touch bases in a while, that we should meet up over dinner. I think it's a good idea, pull out my PDA/calendar, and start working a meeting time and place with his assistant. In the course of our interaction, we joke about the kinds of food my friend detests and make casual chatter about the weather. After I hang up the phone, I would realize that I have no idea if I just talked to a human being or a machine.

Alan Turing proposed that the way we measure machine intelligence is by comparing an interaction with a machine to our interaction with humans. And if we can't tell them apart, then the machine can be labelled as "intelligent". (This test is known as the Turing Test.)

The first time in history when society can't tell the difference between machines and humans is what I refer to as the Turing Event.

Think about the impact of machines in a post Turing Event world... think seriously, because most of us will still be alive and kicking when we get there. How will economies be impacted? Which occupations will be considered "suitable" for humans, and which not? How much social unrest will there be?

Think about what identity would mean in that world. Do our assistants assume our identities, or do we give them their own? What are the questions we should be asking today that we're not asking?

I didn't write this article to give answers; just to ask questions.

What do you think?

P.S. Mitch Kapor has a bet with Ray Kurzweil that this will not happen by 2029.

1 Comment(s):

Blogger Karen Lawrence Öqvist said...

Machines are already taking the place of the telephone operator at the exchange, at least here in Sweden when you query for a phone number of someone.

Hence the first job whereby the conversation capabilities of a machine replace that of a human is here, and effective today.

8:14 AM  

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