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Artificial-Intelligence Experts to Explore Turing Test Triathlon

Intelligentsia of AI will gather to come up with a battery of alternatives to the traditional Turing test

7 min read
Illustration of ai robot hand grasping a computer mouse.
Illustration: Konstantin Inozemtsev/Getty Images

It was billed as an epochal event in humanity’s history: For the first time a computer had proved itself to be as smart as a person. And befitting the occasion, the June story generated headlines all around the world. In reality, it was all a cheesy publicity stunt orchestrated by an artificial-intelligence buff in England.  But there was an upside. Many of the world’s best-known AI programmers were so annoyed by the massive coverage, which they deemed entirely misguided, that they banded together. They intend to make sure the world is never fooled by false AI achievement again. The result is a daylong workshop, “Beyond the Turing Test,” where attendees aim to work out an alternative to the current test. The workshop will be held this coming Sunday in Austin at the annual convention of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Whether a particular computer program is “intelligent,” as opposed to simply being “useful,” is arguably an unanswerable question. But computer scientists have nonetheless been asking it ever since 1950, when Alan Turing wrote “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” and proposed his now-famous test. The test is like a chat session, except the human doesn’t know if it’s a computer or a fellow person on the other end. A computer that can fool the human can be adjudged to be intelligent or, as Turing put it, “thinking.”

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Will AI Steal Submarines’ Stealth?

Better detection will make the oceans transparent—and perhaps doom mutually assured destruction

11 min read
A photo of a submarine in the water under a partly cloudy sky.

The Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Virginia cruises through the Mediterranean in 2010. Back then, it could effectively disappear just by diving.

U.S. Navy

Submarines are valued primarily for their ability to hide. The assurance that submarines would likely survive the first missile strike in a nuclear war and thus be able to respond by launching missiles in a second strike is key to the strategy of deterrence known as mutually assured destruction. Any new technology that might render the oceans effectively transparent, making it trivial to spot lurking submarines, could thus undermine the peace of the world. For nearly a century, naval engineers have striven to develop ever-faster, ever-quieter submarines. But they have worked just as hard at advancing a wide array of radar, sonar, and other technologies designed to detect, target, and eliminate enemy submarines.

The balance seemed to turn with the emergence of nuclear-powered submarines in the early 1960s. In a 2015 study for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, Bryan Clark, a naval specialist now at the Hudson Institute, noted that the ability of these boats to remain submerged for long periods of time made them “nearly impossible to find with radar and active sonar.” But even these stealthy submarines produce subtle, very-low-frequency noises that can be picked up from far away by networks of acoustic hydrophone arrays mounted to the seafloor.

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