The Ultimate Turing Test

By  David Barberi

What is the ultimate Turing Test?

In 1950 Alan Turing published his  now  famous  paper  "Computing
Machinery  and Intelligence." In that paper he describes a method
for humans to test AI programs. In its most basic form,  a  human
judge  sits at a computer terminal and interacts with the subject
by written communication only. The judge must then decide if  the
subject on the other end of the computer link is a human or an AI
program imitating a human.

Can Turings test be improved on? Yes. With  current  advances  in
computer  graphics,  virtual reality, biomechanics and many other
fields, it is possible to create an "Enhanced" or "Virtual"  Tur-
ing  test. The underlying idea of the test is still the same, but
the amount of interaction between judge and subject is  increased

How would this Virtual Turing Test work? The  first  step  is  to
create  a  'world' for the judge and subject to inhabit. ('World'
is a Virtual Reality term  that  signifies  a  shared  electronic
space, or cyberspace, where everyone immersed in it has the abil-
ity to interact with everything else in the world)  With  current
technology this may require the judge to wear a bodysuit, gloves,
and eyephones. In the future, such bulky methods of entering  cy-
berspace  will be replaced by more natural and unobtrusive means,
such as a direct neural interface.

When the judge is immersed into the Virtual Turing Test world all
his  sensual stimulations are produced by the computer. The judge
sees a three dimensional, high resolution computer graphic  image
of  this new world from the viewpoint of his virtual twin. Inside
this world the subject and various physical objects  reside  (let
us  say 2 chairs, a table, some cups, and a steaming pot of tea).
The judge can sit at the chair, grab a cup and feel  the  texture
of  the  cup against his hand by use of tactile response material
next to his skin. The judge can change his viewpoint  by  getting
up  and walking around. If he drops the cup on the floor, it will
shatter and a suitable sound will emerge from  the  three  dimen-
sional coordinates where the cup landed. For all extents and pur-
poses, when he judge is immersed in the Virtual Turing  Test  the
outside world does not exist.

Sitting across from the judge will be  the  subject,  a  computer
graphic  image  of  a human being. The judge will not know if the
subjects actions are controlled by another human  or  a  suitably
advanced computer simulation. The subject could be someone in the
next room wearing the same equipment that the judge  is  wearing,
and  immersed  in  the same world that the judge is in. It is the
judges role to test the subject and decide if it is human or not.

If the subject is a human the computer will copy  every  movement
the  subject  makes,  every sound that they produce, every facial
expression, every hand gesture, every eye movement. When the sub-
ject  talks,  the sound will originate from the mouth of the sub-
jects virtual copy.

If the subject is a simulation then  the  computer  will  control
every aspect of the subject. The simulation must be able to speak
and interact with the judge in every way that the a human subject
would.  If the judge reaches across the table to slap the subject
in the head, the simulation will realize this and  dodge  out  of
the  way,  much  like  any human would do. The simulation will be
able to interact with the virtual environment in every  way  that
the  judge  can.  If  the judge politely asks the subject to pour
them both a cup of tea, this  physical  interaction  will  be  no
problem for the simulation.

The core of the simulation must control three basic  items:  com-
phrehensive  communication  with the judge, correct biomechanical
movement, and awareness of its environment.

The last of these items is the  simplest.  The  computer  already
knows  where  every object is in the virtual world. It can easily
calculate what 2 images would enter  the  simulations  eyes  from
whatever  viewpoint  it  happens to be at. Of course, the control
program should not allow the simulation  to  know  more  then  it
should.  If  the  Judge is holding a book behind his back and the
simulation has not 'seen' the book yet, then,  even  through  the
control  program  knows  where  and what the book is, it will not
pass this information to the simulation until the book comes into
its  field  of view. The second item, correct biomechanical move-
ment, deals with the way humans move. It is impossible for a nor-
mal  human to bend his elbow past a certain point. The simulation
will follow all the physical limitations that the human body has.
It  may  not  create  a new arm or leg if needed, it may not turn
it's head around 360 degrees, it may not  fly  into  the  air  by
flapping  its  arms, etc. This aspect of the simulation, while by
no means trivial, can be  created  with  the  biomechanical  data
available  today.  The  last, and hardest, item is comphrehensive
communications. By comphrehensive we are not only  talking  about
spoken  words, but also the wealth of non-verbal cues that humans
use. Such things that we take for granted, such as hand gestures,
gaze  of the eyes, position of the limbs, and facial gestures are
all examples of non-verbal communications. It is the  simulations
job  to use both verbal and non-verbal communications to make the
judge think it is acting in a very 'human' way.

How does this Virtual Turing Test  compare  to  Turings  original
test?  We have replaced the limited communications allowed by two
connected computer terminals with a comphrehensive environment of
sight,  sound  and  body. We allow the judge to base his decision
not only on written words, but on spoken speech, non-verbal cues,
and body movement.

The test still holds to the spirit  of  the  original.  There  is
still  a  human judge that must use his intelligence and savvy to
test the subject. Like the original test, the judge has no way of
telling  if  the  subject is human or not until he interacts with
it. Like the original test, the goal of the computer is to create
a simulation of human action so realistic that not even other hu-
mans can tell the difference.

The technology exists today to hold a simplistic  Virtual  Turing
Test.  As more research and work is put into Virtual Reality, AI,
and biomechanics, a suitably advanced human simulation  can,  and
will, be produced.

(c) copyright 1992 by David Barberi I  wrote  this  at   Syracuse
University  for a Philosophy class named Minds and Machines ( PHI
378 ). It's only in 'First Draft' format. Maybe some day I'll up-
date it.. nah!.

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-   Last   updated:   July   4,    1995    -    David    Barberi,