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How would you distinguish the man from the machine?

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closed as not constructive by NickC, ChrisF Apr 5 '11 at 16:32

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Eliza says "Oh... determine the man from the machine?" –  kevin cline Apr 1 '11 at 9:00
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"That September 11th thing was amazing, wasn't it?" - A human would get the reference, a machine is much less likely to. Generally the best way would be to pose something where you can expect a decent emotional response from a human, but where the programmer may have not thought of that situation. You look like a jackass if it is a human, though. –  TZHX Apr 1 '11 at 9:27
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I believe that 70% of Earth population (incl. children adults elders and retarded, etc.) would not get that reference, and 30% would not get it even if you say it in their native language. We are not being fair to the machines. –  Job Apr 1 '11 at 15:39
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I would ask lots of sex-related questions. –  Job Apr 1 '11 at 15:40
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closed? Really? Does it come more subjective than this? –  user1249 Apr 6 '11 at 20:19
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26 Answers

"Why are manhole covers round?"

Perhaps followed up with "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"


EDIT: I've come to think of that Douglas Hofstadter has done a delightful piece on this exact subject (including the highest rated answer) and found an online version at http://www.cse.unr.edu/~sushil/class/ai/papers/coffeehouse.html. Especially the scenario where he tries to disclose Nicolai in the "Post Scriptum" section is a fantastic read. I believe I read this in Metamagical Themes.

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Hahahahahahaha! +1111111111111111111 –  Job Apr 2 '11 at 2:49
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What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

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English or African? –  rjzii Apr 4 '11 at 15:27
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African or European, not English. –  TZHX Apr 8 '11 at 9:36
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First: "Are you a programmer?"

If no, not a program.

If yes:

"Do you prefer emacs or vi?"

If that doesn't start a flamewar, it's a machine :)

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Whats is your date of birth :) And mother's name too :):):)

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"Sorry I'm late. Got held up at my mother's funeral."

Would any intelligent being other than a human respond to that as a human would? I think not.

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I would ask anything where there isn't a clear cut answer and which usually involves strong or varied opinions and/or emotions from human participants. For example:

  • What do do you think of the current situation in Libya?
  • What are your thoughts on the recent disaster in Japan?
  • How do you think we should resolve the humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast?
  • Why do you think Coldplay became so popular?
  • What do you think about Charlie Sheen?
  • What new technologies should we foresee in the next twenty years?
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Why might a guy say to another guy "Oh, be a fine girl kiss me"?

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"When was the last time you prevaricated?"

Semantically it's a sensible question, and a computer would probably try and answer it, but a human being would just say - "Awee... c'mon.. how the hell would I know?"

Anything with that pattern, ie. linguistically, semantically, and culturally a sensible question, but something which no real person would ask, or answer. (This can be done, without going into deeply personal areas - in fact, the computer might be programmed to handle those with "that's private").

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I'd ask something I've always wondered:

"Mary Ann or Ginger?"

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A computer would answer "The Professor". –  Tom Zych Apr 4 '11 at 18:26
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What would an M look like if you were standing on your head?

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Well most likely computer has problem answering an alternative to problem :

Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

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You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?

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Did you make up this question, Mr. dcousineau? =) –  Jader Dias Apr 1 '11 at 16:17
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@Jader, In answer to your query, they're written down for him. –  user1249 Apr 1 '11 at 18:21
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And if the answer is "Let me tell you about my mother..." then 1) it is a machine, and 2) RUN –  rsenna Apr 1 '11 at 21:16
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What is the meaning of...'); DROP TABLE Responses;
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"Dave, what are you doing?" :) –  Goran Jovic Apr 1 '11 at 17:28
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+1. See also xkcd.com/327 "Did you really name your son Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;" ? –  petrus Apr 2 '11 at 15:36
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@Goran, amzing! By the way, this answer characterizes the test subject quite precisely. –  Pavel Shved Apr 4 '11 at 18:03
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"Will your answer to this question be negative?"

Note: the original Turing test proposal was for the computer to pretend to be a woman, the interviewer to be a man, and the test limited to five minutes. If the man was unable to determine if the computer was a woman or not in five minutes, we would have to conclude that the computer was intelligent, "because the converse is not polite".

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I'd see if it could handle lots of slang, incorrect grammar and implicit meaning as efficiently as a human:

Dude, is you some kinda fancy-schmancy circuit board or does you have DNA?

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To my knowledge that would filter out most humans too. –  user1249 Apr 1 '11 at 18:18
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Especially non-native English speakers. –  Adam Matan Apr 2 '11 at 14:07
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How are you feeling today? and go on with empathic conversation.

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I think you should make up your mind on whether you prefer an "empathic" or a "pathetic" conversation ;-) –  Péter Török Apr 1 '11 at 12:26
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"If humans said nothing to prove that they're human, what would you say?"

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Ask a logical question which requires infinite recursion for evaluation and hope the programmers weren't smart enough to account for that kind of question.

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Challenge it to a game of "Global Thermonuclear War". Or perhaps a game of tic-tac-toe versus itself.

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So I see that Fred A. Niedle was fired for woobling the wotsits. What do you think about the whole affair?

I'd expect an AI to try to Eliza it back to me somehow, and a human to respond with confusion or humour.

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If you were to answer dishonestly, how would you answer this question?

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A: “I wouldn't.” –  Agos Apr 1 '11 at 14:21
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@Agos - but that is an honest answer ;) –  HorusKol Apr 1 '11 at 22:57
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"Possibly ambiguously." –  Beska Aug 12 '11 at 17:36
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Anything ironic. So far machines are totally incapable of interpreting jokes and irony. Although some people are too, so you may get some false negatives ;-)

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How much wood, would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck would chuck wood?

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A woodchuck could chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck couldn't chuck wood. –  Ant Apr 1 '11 at 9:46
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But if a woodchuck could chuck and would chuck some amount of wood, what amount of wood would a woodchuck chuck? –  Kristof Claes Apr 1 '11 at 12:21
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Even if a woodchuck could chuck wood and even if a woodchuck would chuck wood, should a woodchuck chuck wood? –  bastibe Apr 1 '11 at 12:50
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A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. (According to the tongue twister, although the paper "The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers" by P.A. Paskevich and T.B. Shea in Annals of Improbable Research vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 4-9, July/August 1995, concluded that a woodchuck can chuck 361.9237001 cubic centimeters of wood per day.) –  GSto Apr 1 '11 at 13:36
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I'd just ask him "If you could pose a question to a turing test candidate, what would it be?".

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+1, touché. Lovely. –  l0b0 Apr 1 '11 at 11:34
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I don't think it is a good question. For one thing, both "What is a Turing test?" and "I don't know" would be a perfectly legitimate answer from most humans, and a trivial choice for a machine. –  Péter Török Apr 1 '11 at 12:24
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Well then you could explain what it is in simple terms, and then ask again. –  Mr. Shickadance Apr 1 '11 at 12:33
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The point here is that the machine would enter an endless loop and stack overflow, hence being revealed! –  Philippe Apr 1 '11 at 12:36
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@Philippe, unless it has been taught to ask difficult questions on programmers.stackexchange.com... –  user1249 Apr 1 '11 at 18:25
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Humans use rapport to sniff out artifice

Essentially this means that it will always take a series of questions and subsequent analysis of the answers to establish if the anonymous entity at the end of the line is a human being or not. A single question will not achieve this.

I suppose you could ask "Will you meet me in the car park in 2 minutes?" and then see what turns up.

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"Are you Watson?" :-p

Jokes aside, I think it is impossible to determine man from machine with a single question, especially without any context info.

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