How to verify whether you speak to a machine or a living person?
Imagine online communication in the not so distant future. The era of the Internet of Things means AI is rife. There are virtual spokesmen, assistants, advisors, fortune-tellers as well as ‘lonely hearts’ roaming the web. Given that the conversation is run in English - a language with a relatively simple syntax — it might be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a machine and a living person. Few years ago, IBM revealed an artificially intelligent computer “capable of answering questions posed in natural language” — Watson. So far it has only beaten human contestants in the popular tv show Jeopardy!, but it may not be long before the system and its clones find a wider, commercial application.
What question should one ask then in order to verify whether he chats with a human being or a computer bot? The question cannot concern knowledge, be it general or even tacit one, because the machine knows everything and it might have access to personal data through social media accounts or a browser’s history; it may also play a fool, and pretend it does not know. The same applies to questions concerning emotions, as they are basically impossible to verify even among humans. The machine could easily lie answering what it felt after the victory of its favourite team or whether it loves somebody. The AI is also more and more skillful at solving many practical tasks such as the popular CAPTCHA phrases once able to tell computers and humans apart. Machines can easily write and send emails, make calls or recognize particular people in photographs.
Now, if it is not knowledge, emotional state nor skills that the question can test, what should be its goal instead? We know, that the question should provoke an answer that is sensible and true, yet not exactly factual nor objective. The question should, therefore, be aimed at the center of the respondent’s personality and test their wisdom. For wisdom has always been the measure of humanity. In order to possess it, one does not need to graduate any school nor be particularly intelligent or gifted. It is enough to be honest and perceptive. The question concerning wisdom imposes upon the respondent concrete limitations. The answer may be subjective, yet at the same time it should make sense and, for that reason, cannot be random. The more sense in the answer the greater the humanity, the greater the chance it is a human being we are talking to.
What, then, is the difference between ‘new’ and ‘fresh’? ☺