It’s time to toss the Turing test

It's time to toss the Turing test

OPINION The Turing test is about us, not the bots, and it has failed.

Fans of the slow burn mainstream media U-turn had a treat last week.

On Saturday, the news broke that Blake Lemoine, a Google engineer charged with monitoring a chatbot called LaMDA for nastiness, had been put on paid leave for revealing confidential information.

Lamoine had indeed gone public, but instead of something useful like Google’s messaging strategy (a trade secret if ever there was one) he made the claim that LaMDA was alive.

Armed with a transcript where LamDA did indeed claim sentience and claims that it had passed the Turing Test, Lemoine was the tech whistleblower from heaven for the media. By the time the news had filtered onto BBC radio news on Sunday evening, it was being reported as an event of some importance.

On Twitter, it had been torn apart in a few hours, but who trusts Twitter with its large and active AI R&D community?

A couple of days later, the story was still flying, but by now journalists had brought in expert comment, by way of a handful of academics who had the usual reservations about expressing opinions.

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