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图灵测试(The Turing Test)

发布时间:2006-02-11    作者:未知    来源:Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy    

            The Turing Test

The phrase “The Turing Test” is most properly used to refer to a proposal made by Turing (1950) as a way of dealing with the question whether machines can think. According to Turing, the question whether machines can think is itself “too meaningless” to deserve discussion (442). However, if we consider the more precise -- and somehow related -- question whether a digital computer can do well in a certain kind of game that Turing describes (“The Imitation Game”), then -- at least in Turing`s eyes -- we do have a question that admits of precise discussion. Moreover, as we shall see, Turing himself thought that it would not be too long before we did have digital computers that could “do well” in the Imitation Game.

The phrase “The Turing Test” is sometimes used more generally to refer to some kinds of behavioural tests for the presence of mind, or thought, or intelligence in putatively minded entities. So, for example, it is sometimes suggested that The Turing Test is prefigured in Descartes` Discourse on the Method. (Copeland (2000:527) finds an anticipation of the test in the 1668 writings of the Cartesian de Cordemoy. Gunderson (1964) provides an early instance of those who find that Turing`s work is foreshadowed in the work of Descartes.) In the Discourse, Descartes says:

If there were machines which bore a resemblance to our bodies and imitated our actions as closely as possible for all practical purposes, we should still have two very certain means of recognizing that they were not real men. The first is that they could never use words, or put together signs, as we do in order to declare our thoughts to others. For we can certainly conceive of a machine so constructed that it utters words, and even utters words that correspond to bodily actions causing a change in its organs. … But it is not conceivable that such a machine should produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in its presence, as the dullest of men can do. Secondly, even though some machines might do some things as well as we do them, or perhaps even better, they would inevitably fail in others, which would reveal that they are acting not from understanding, but only from the disposition of their organs. For whereas reason is a universal instrument, which can be used in all kinds of situations, these organs need some particular action; hence it is for all practical purposes impossible for a machine to have enough different organs to make it act in all the contingencies of life in the way in which our reason makes us act. (Translation by Robert Stoothoff)

Although not everything about this passage is perfectly clear, it does seem that Descartes gives a negative answer to the question whether machines can think; and, moreover, it seems that his giving this negative answer is tied to his confidence that no mere machine could pass The Turing Test: no mere machine could talk and act in the way in which adult human beings do. Since Descartes explicitly says that there are “two very certain means” by which we can rule out that something is a machine -- it is, according to Descartes, inconceivable that a mere machine could produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in its presence; and it is for all practical purposes impossible for a machine to have enough different organs to make it act in all the contingencies of life in the way in which our reason makes us act -- it seems that he must agree with the further claim that nothing that can produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in its presence can be a machine. Given the further assumption -- which one suspects that Descartes would have been prepared to grant -- that only things that think can produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in their presence, it seems to follow that Descartes would have agreed that the Turing Test would be a good test of his confident assumption that there cannot be thinking machines. Given the knowledge that something is indeed a machine, evidence that that thing can produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in its presence is evidence that there can be thinking machines.

The phrase “The Turing Test” is also sometimes used to refer to certain kinds of purely behavioural allegedly logically sufficient conditions for the presence of mind, or thought, or intelligence, in putatively minded entities. So, for example, Ned Block`s “Blockhead” thought experiment is often said to be a (putative) knockdown objection to The Turing Test. (Block (1981) contains a direct discussion of The Turing Test in this context.) Here, what a proponent of this view has in mind is the idea that it is logically possible for an entity to pass the kinds of tests that Descartes and (at least allegedly) Turing have in mind -- to use words (and, perhaps, to act) in just the kind of way that human beings do -- and yet to be entirely lacking in intelligence, not possessed of a mind, etc.

The subsequent discussion takes up the preceding ideas in the order in which they have been introduced. First, there is a discussion of Turing`s paper (1950), and of the arguments contained therein. Second, there is a discussion of current assessments of various proposals that have been called “The Turing Test” (whether or not there is much merit in the application of this label to the proposals in question). Third, there is a brief discussion of some recent writings on The Turing Test, including some discussion of the question whether The Turing Test sets an appropriate goal for research into artificial intelligence. Finally, there is a very short discussion of Searle`s Chinese Room argument, and, in particular, of the bearing of this argument on The Turing Test.


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