By Antonio G Valdecasas

As Turing wrote in his Can digital computers think?, we could know if a subject not of our own kind is an intelligent source through their output signals. However, the signal he selected is perhaps not as clear cut as he presupposed: “… it will be possible to programme a machine to answer questions in such a way that it will be extremely difficult to guess whether the answers are being given by a man or by the machine.” This future is here with ever-advancing AI tools already able to build convincing answers. Von Neuman suggested a stricter test: “the sudden pounce on an idea.
I suggest intonation—reading aloud—as a test of an intelligent subject. Ask any text-to-speech software to recite Lorca’s Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias or Elliot’s The Waste Land. Intonation is contingent on meaning, which is a manifestation of understanding.
A real test to detect a human signal producing-being could be the congruent emotional reading of a new poem or a paragraph for which meaning, context and understanding is essential. It is not a test of emotional response á la Blade Runner’s Voight-Kampff test, but one that relies on evaluating emotional intonation output for a diagnosis..


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Antonio G Valdecasas



Published: 29 Nov, 2023

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