The Turing Test – are you better than a computer

The Turing Test – are you better than a computer

Here’s an interesting book review of “The Most Human Human”  – leading off with the concept of the Turing Test. This Test is: can a computer convincingly simulate a human participation in a conversation?

In particular I am curious about its exploration of ‘the way the compression of data can be used as a measure of originality.’

Where is ‘intelligence’ involved in compression of data and originality?  Of course, the answer will largely turn on how you define your requirements. 😉

By intelligence, do you mean doing a good job of compressing information?  Well, creating a zip file is far superior to what a human might do manually if you’re just trying to represent bits with fewer bits – smaller and reversible.  On the other hand, no computer is likely to produce a well-written summary of a book any time soon.  Perhaps some of the sophisticated semantic search engines could extract plausible concepts, and perhaps even pick out sentences likely to be representative, but the puck stops there.  I think humans still have a monopoly as expert summarizers.


Or, is the question regarding dense data, e.g. something that cannot be compressed much by current algorithms without losing something important?  This might describe a dry and well-annotated metadata description of something: if it’s already shrunk to a skeleton, you can’t make it much smaller.  Or, perhaps it’s something very human (artistic, like a painting or poetry) where the details are critical to the subtlety.  Computers are probably excellent at spitting out metadata, and correlating it.  But art – humans still monopolize the creation and definition.

Originality… As for that huge concept, I am curious where the author goes with it.  Perhaps he heads in the ‘art’ direction, since the review later mentions poetry.

Using the philosophical issues thrown up by the possibility of being out-humaned by machines, [the author explores the definition of ‘human’] if replicable by machines? …. We are increasingly automating our own conversations (call-centres being the prime, but not only, example)….

[The book] argues that, in fact, we’ve just been on the wrong tack philosophically. Too ‘left-brain’… too lazy and clichéd. In a remarkable passage, he explores the way the compression of data can be used as a measure of originality. It’s riveting stuff.

Is poetry, for example, the most human way of using language (again echoing McGilchrist)? Are we far less exceptional beings than perhaps we like to think? And does it make a difference? via The Most Human Human by Brian Christian, reviewed in: Books, music, and the rest.

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