Complexity and the Turing Test I

Blockhead and Aunt Bertha are part of a class of triviality objections which charge that the Turing Test does not constitute a sufficient condition for intelligence. The objection claims that it is logically possible to construct a computer program with the following setup:

  1. Perform a Turing Test with a sequence of questions with a human (call her Bertha) respondent
  2. Record those responses on a hash structure on storage
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each possible interrogation

Once this setup procedure is completed, then create a program to play the Turing test. When posed with a question from an interrogator, have the computer program look up Bertha’s responses in the hashtable. Because we have enumerated all possible Turing Test interrogations, the appropriate response should be somewhere in the table. Because this is a hashtable the operation shoudl return in steps. If Bertha’s original responses were enough to convince an interrogator of her humanity, then her recorded responses would also. Hence it passes the Turing test.

The objection claims that this Bertha machine cannot rightly be called intelligent. For Block, the machine does not engage in any information processing. Instead Block analogizes the the Bertha machine’s intelligence to a kind of two way radio or walkie-talkie. He writes:

The point of the machine example may be illuminated by comparing it with a two-way radio. If one is speaking to an intelligent person over a two-way radio, the radio will normally emit sensible replies to whatever one says. But the radio does not do this in virtue of a capacity to make sensible replies that it possesses.

If the length of the Turing Test is unbounded, then such a machine is impossible to construct because the setup procedure would never finish in order for the Turing Test interrogation to begin. Block’s own solution is to limit the Turing Test to some arbitrary length of time (something like an hour).

import java.awt.*;

public static void main(String[) args) { public static void {
	System.out.println("Hello, world");