What is the Turing Test, and Why is it so Difficult to Pass?

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One of the most difficult challenges in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to create a machine that “thinks” as intelligently as humans do. However, devising a definition for the word “think” itself is quite a task. This is because it is yet unclear as to what comprises a human being’s thoughts, and what is the driving force behind his/her intelligence. Is it a manifestation of the immortal soul or is it just a complex network of nerves comprising the nervous system? To create an intelligent machine or a computer, it is necessary to grant it with thinking capabilities that are at par with humans. If such an intelligent machine is ever created, how can we test whether it can think on its own? How can it be certified as Artificial Intelligence?

Alan Mathison Turing, a computer analyst, mathematician and cryptoanalyst, provided a simple solution to this problem. In a paper published in the Journal Mind, in 1950, Turing suggests that rather than creating complications by using the word “think”, defining it, or asking whether machines can “think”, it is easier to develop a task that requires thinking, and testing whether a machine can succeed in that task. In Turing’s own words, “Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words” (Turing, 1950, p. 433). These “unambiguous words” were in fact the “imitation game”, now known as “Turing’s Test”. This test suggested by Turing has been used ever since to test artificial intelligence. In spite of the technological advancements since the Turing test was first published, no machine has yet passed the test. Turing’s paper has been a frontrunner in all publications and researc...

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