Turing Test

For this test, you need to have higher than C++ to pass.

A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.

In computer science, a Turing Test is a computer's attempt to demonstrate human intelligence. It's a test of an AI's quality, usually by carrying through a conversation with a user by text-only chat. If the user can't reliably tell the difference between the AI and another user chatting the same way, the AI passes. At heart, the Turing Test is a machine attempting to prove it is a human. Comedic extensions of the test may include persuading the tester that the other test-ee is the AI, or that they themselves are the AI.

In the world of science fiction, this test becomes Serious Business for the machines involved. In worlds with Ridiculously Human Robots and Artificial Humans, this test is useful for determining who is flesh and blood, and who is steel and silicon.

The test relies on the inherent differences between an AI and a real human mind. It can involve asking questions only a human being would be able to answer, such as ruminating on matters of emotion and love. It might also involve resolving paradoxes and handling concepts other machines would be unable to compute. Conversely, it can also be used to determine if a given character is NOT human, either by failing the test, or by its inverse. For example, in works with a Robot War, the Turing Test is useful in keeping the evil robot army from infiltrating the base of La Résistance and killing all humans, or it can be used to fool said robot army into letting the meatbag walk in freely.

A subtrope of Artificial Intelligence. This trope can appear at all ends of the Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence, but tends to appear at the higher end, where the 'bots will be more human-like. Those who pass the Turing Test may have undergone Mechanical Evolution, or something as simple as being struck by lightning.


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    Audio Play 
  • In the Blake's 7 audio drama "The Turing Test", unsurprisingly enough, but with a twist. Avon, masquerading as an android, is given the test with what he assumes is a human scientist at the far end. His opponent turns out to be a real, advanced android, which is why the scientists were so willing to accept Avon as one himself - but he's human. So what is she?

  • Johnny 5 receives one in the late second act of Short Circuit, proving to Newton that he is indeed alive.
  • The Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner is a form of Turing Test. Because androids have no empathy, the tester asks questions designed to provoke an empathetic response and measures the testee's reactions.
  • David manages to pass a sort of unofficial test in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence when he's captured for the Flesh Fair and slated to be destroyed in front of a crowd. However, when he's brought in front of the crowd, his pleading for his life manages to convince them that he's a real boy about to be killed and he manages to escape in the confusion.
  • The point of main character Caleb's presence in Ex Machina is to perform this on Ava, an AI created by his reclusive billionaire boss. He points out that, traditionally, he shouldn't know Ava is artificial. His boss dismisses this, claiming that Ava would easily pass if they were in separate rooms. The real test is if Caleb can come to see her as conscious while knowing she's a machine. Actually, it's to see if she can convince him to help her escape, which would be the ultimate test of her abilities. It is also reminiscent of the AI-Box experiment in which an AI with limited input and output has to convince a human "Gatekeeper" to release it into the world.

  • The final dialogue in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid plays this straight and subverts it, using a heavy dose of Recursive Reality.
  • Subverted In Robert J Sawyer's WWW Trilogy, where an AI emergent from mutant web packets with a damaged time-to-life counter is proven to be intelligent on account of how it fails the Turing test.
  • Used in The Diamond Age by the protagonist, using poetry to determine if the interlocutor was human or not.
  • Discussed in The Long Earth - apparently, passing this is no longer enough for AIs to be recognized as sapient. Lobsang (a mysterious, far-reaching AI with backups everywhere) got around it by claiming to be the reincarnated soul of a Tibetan monk who died the moment he was switched on. He passes his human friends' personal Turing tests by engaging in frivolous behaviour such as cosplaying Indiana Jones while exploring ruins.
  • Blind Sight has a group of astronauts who are contacted by an alien intelligence and converse with it. Eventually a linguist determines that the alien is a Chinese room. It is essentially a computer with no sentience and no idea what it's saying.

    Live Action TV 
  • Person of Interest: The Machine passes with flying colors when it creates "Ernest Thornhill," a convincing human persona, and impersonates Pennsylvania Two, issuing orders to various government departments to relocate its servers away from Hanford.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 
  • In the BioShock 2 DLC "Minerva's Den", the player character Subject Sigma's Mission Control is Charles Milton Porter, a genius scientist who actually worked with Turing in Bletchley Park prior to his invitation to Rapture. While working on Rapture's Master Computer "The Thinker", he sought to make it "think for itself" and more importantly actually mimic human personalities, in particular that of his deceased wife. He makes great strides in that regard (which prompts him to remark "If only Turing could see me now...") and eventually succeeds but eventually turns off the program because it just "isn't her". Shortly after the player learns this, he also learns that in a way, he has been part of a Turing Test all along: Sigma IS Porter and the "Porter" that has been guiding you all this time was The Thinker mimicking Porter's personality.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Peace Walker's AI, BS-Imago, is 'the world's first Turing Test capable AI'. It's an AI based on the mind of The Boss created by a student of Alan Turing. In the beginning of the game, we hear a recording of its creator giving it a Voight-Kampff Test-like scenario in order to check its capacity for humanlike thinking.

    Web Comics 
  • Act 6 of Homestuck introduces a new character who makes up an auto-responder program that is almost indistinguishable from himself, referencing the test indirectly.
    • He makes a good case for his own personhood shortly thereafter, seemingly passing the test. However he's not perfect, and is still prone to glitches.
    • The test is referenced directly when Dirk accuses the responder of failing it deliberately.
    TT: Shit, Roxy look. He's doing the thing where he ironically pretends to fail the Turing test to sass me into submission.
    TT: Even though I was the one who fucking programmed him to do that.
  • This xkcd strip gives the machine bonus points for making the examiner believe himself to be a machine also.
  • An early arc of PvP had a researcher giving his chatbot an improvised Turing test by putting it on the internet under an alias. Francis was fooled into thinking he was talking to a real girl.
  • In S.S.D.D the first version of the Oracle bluffed its way past the Turing test by saying random stuff when confused like "I say, are you implying that I enjoy bum sex with other men?"
  • In Freefall, Florence asks two robots, "What does my name smell like?" The first dismisses the question as nonsense. The second, after wondering if it's being tested or on a reality TV show, concludes that without a sense of smell, it can't be sure names don't have scents.
  • Referenced in Megatokyo when Junpei declares that a robot has a real brain when zombies can't tell the difference.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted twice in Futurama:
    • A "reverse Turing Test" is administered when Bender has switched bodies with Amy and has to prove he's a robot.
    • In season 1's "Fear of a 'Bot Planet", Fry and Leela wind up on a planet ruled by antihuman robots, but successfully impersonate robots.
    Guard 2: Administer the test.
    Guard 1: Which of the following would you prefer: A — a puppy, B — a flower from your sweetie, or C — a large, properly formatted data file? Choose!
    Fry: Is the puppy mechanical in any way?
    Guard 1: No! It is the bad kind of puppy!
    Leela: Then we'll go with that data file.
    Guard 1: Correct.
    Guard 2: The flower would have also been acceptable.

    Real Life 
  • The test gets its name from its inventor Alan Turing, the cryptanalyst/computer scientist from World War II who helped break the Nazis' Enigma code and helped lay the groundwork for modern computers, proposed it in 1950 in the paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Turing himself died in 1954 when computers were still in their infancy. While the idea endures, its actual usefulness has been challenged over the years. Some examples:
    • The test doesn't so much test intelligence, but similarity to humans; it tests how well the computer can pretend to be a human. Through the ELIZA effect social engineering rather then actual intelligence may cause a program to be perceived as human thus "passing" the Turing Test but not being any sort of general intelligence. Hence various chatterbot programs may convince unknowing humans they aren't speaking to an AI because they are geared towards impersonating a human.
    • In the opposite direction some intelligent behaviors are not human. A computer can easily solve well-defined mathematical problems in a fraction of the time that the most intelligent human mind could. But actually doing so would easily reveal the subject to be a computer and so it would fail the test.
    • The philosopher John Searle created the concept of the Chinese Room to suggest that the Turing test is ineffective at determining intelligence. Taking a position that thought and programmed responses are still different methods that don't imply one another. So even if you can't tell them apart from the outside its the inside perspective that ultimately counts. Ergo no program will ever think, where Alan Turing might argue that it doesn't matter since you can't tell.
  • A basic kind of Turing Test is those annoying CAPTCHA widgets to prevent spambots. The acronym stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart".
  • David Fogel, creator of the checkers neural learning AI Blondie24 in a presentation rejected that the Turing Test is accurate method of testing (he was asked about it by one of the audience). While letting the AI play online, people actively were trying to talk to it as if it were a real person, despite Fogel's team nor the AI itself doing nothing in response.