The Turing Politician
The new movie “The Imitation Game” is about Alan Turing. Among Turing’s many accomplishments was a test for assessing artificial intelligence – quite a feat for a man living at a time when computers were the size of bank vaults and as mentally quick as 1st graders.
Turing’s Test is a deception game. The examiner asks questions of a person and a computer. There are no hard-and-fast rules to the questions, but ultimately the examiner has to decide which is human and which is computer. As soon as a computer can fool us into thinking “it” is a “he”, it has achieved intelligence (and we should stop referring to it as “it”).
I’m a little concerned that the first thing we want a computer with AI to do is deceive us – it sets a very negative tone for the relationship, but I didn’t invent the test.
Many computers have tried and failed Turing’s test. Recently, it was reported that a computer called Eugene had passed the test, but it seems that Eugene, imitating a 13-year-old boy from the Ukraine, hadn’t passed after all (grade inflation gets everywhere these days.)
But all this talk about the Turing Test and artificial intelligence got me wondering if I could use the same approach to choosing a political candidate. I know, I’ve talked about this before, but a Turing Test would tell me if I was voting for a person or a politician. My theory is that I’m usually only given the choice between two politicians – this isn’t quite what Turing had in mind. He didn’t sit an examiner down to chat with two computers and try to decide which was a human.
The most successful questions used in a Turing Test are those that check a computer’s capacity to lie.
Politicians have no problem with the lying thing – a good question might determine if the politician has the human ability of telling the truth. And I don’t mean a Kinsley gaffe, I mean telling the truth on purpose.
I searched Internetland long and hard for an example of political truth-telling (even I, a master cynic, wasn’t expecting it to be this difficult).
I thought I found one when I stumbled across Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) saying in 2003 “I don’t need Bush’s tax cut. I have never worked a fucking day in my life.” – but this statement had to be disqualified because the politician was telling the truth while impaired.
In my quest to find a truth-telling politician, I did find a hilarious example of a 6th grade lesson plan trying to teach the students why we want our politicians to be honest – as if! “Politicians Always Lie” would be a better lesson. (Note: The politician being studied was Sam Rayburn. Even these teachers had to go back 40 years to find a truthful politician).
Finally, I found an example (*Whew*- that was hard work.) Lucy Flores, running for Lt. Governor of Nevada frankly admitted to having an abortion. She didn’t win, of course.
Apparently, there is a Turing Test for politicians. The human ability to tell the truth is currently beyond the ability of even the most advanced politician.
I’m Jae and this message is a complete fabrication.
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