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The Turing Test

There can be little doubt that Artificial Intelligence will one day transform our lives although perhaps not for a few years as the following transcript from an online help session demonstrates.

  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – Welcome! How can I help with your appliance question?
  • User – we intermittently get f11 errors on our 10 year old machine. any suggestions?
  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – How old is the appliance? Have you gotten error messages before?
  • User – ?
  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – What confuses you?
  • User – did you read my initial post?
  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
  • User – are you human or a chat bot?
  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – I’m an assistant to the Appliance Technician. I work with them to help customers like you.
  • User – please be specific. human or AI helper?
  • Appliance Technician’s Assistant – Anything else we should know to help you best? It makes me sad that you don’t believe in me. Maybe I’ll be like Tinkerbell and die unless you believe I’m real.

Even this cursory Turing Test shows that the path of innovation (if not laughter) is rarely smooth.  The same can be said for ‘the cloud’, graphene, ‘the internet of things’, 3D printing, electric cars, wearable technology and virtual reality all of which have been round the block in various guises.

Nonetheless offshoots from these unrelated technologies do crack open doors.  So while buzzwords permeate exhibition halls and product launches, its well worth persevering through the fog to find those nuggets that one day deliver on those lofty promises.

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