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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Turing Test is finally relevant

I grew up learning about the Turing Test as an intellectual exercise. I understand it, and I think it's a great test. I just never thought I'd need to use it so soon.

I'm getting a lot of automated phone calls now. But the automation is getting more sophisticated - voice-activated delays, pauses in the dialog to simulate human speech patterns, etc.

So now when I pick up the phone I wait before responding. Then I say 'hello' in a flat tone. If there's a robot on the other end, they will launch into their spiel.

But now, the robot is including multiple delays and even giggles. Yes, the robot voice is giggling and telling me that her headphones slipped off (to explain the second delay after her initial 'hello').

I don't like having to run the Turing Test on every phone call. I wanted to run the Turing Test on a real AI-enabled robot, not a pre-programmed marketing call script. Oh well.

And as an aside - I have always pronounced "spiel" as "Shpeel". I assumed it started with sh- or sch-. I guess I've never written the word before. Thank you Google for setting me right.