Can Computers Think Like People?
Â The Turing Test
The Turing test is a hypothetical test to determine whether a computer system has reached the level of artificial intelligence. If the computer can fool a person into thinking it is another person, then it has artificial intelligence. Except in very narrow areas, no computer has passed the Turing test. Free e-mail account providers such as Hotmail or Yahoo take advantage of this fact. They need to distinguish between new account registrations generated by a person and registrations generated by spammersâ€™ software. Why? Spammers burn through thousands of e-mail accounts to send millions of e-mails. To help them, spammers need automated tools to generate these accounts. Hotmail fights this practice by requiring registrants to enter correctly an alphanumeric code hidden within an image. Spammersâ€™ programs have trouble correctly reading the code, but most humans do not. With this reverse Turing test, also called a CAPTCHA, Hotmail can distinguish between a person and a program and allow only humans to register. As a result, spammers must look elsewhere for free accounts.
Â a. Aside from those mentioned above, in what applications might businesses find it useful to distinguish between a human and a computer?
b. Describe a Turing test that a visually impaired person, but not a computer, might pass.
Â c. Search the Internet for the term CAPTCHA and describe its strengths and weaknesses.