Can machines think?” This was the question Alan Turing posed in his influential 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Toward answering this question, Turing proposed a parlor game in which an interrogator would converse with two individuals, trying to determine which was the human and which the computer. If the interrogator mistook the computer for the human, that computer could be said to “think”.
This exhibit explored the strange afterlife of the Turing Test as it has circulated in popular, scientific, and commercial cultures. It reexamined elements of Turing’s own interactions with humans and machines, later imaginations of thinking machines, as well as a famous attempt to translate Turing’s parlor game into a real test of artificial intelligence: the Loebner Competition. Visitors to the exhibit were invited to act as the interrogator in an instantiation of a Turing Test featuring the AI program A.L.I.C.E. Turing’s elegant formulation of the problem of machine thought were refracted into a complex array of relationships between humans and machines.