Ten alternatives to a Turing test (that don't involve machines getting rich)

This post is a response to an idea proposed by Mustafa Suleyman last month. In his opinion, we need new tests for AI, since the Turing test has been made largely obsolete by the recent advances. His idea? Giving AI $100,000 to play with, and waiting for the successful models to make a million bucks. As always, there are plenty of things to dislike about this idea - I'd start with the fact that it's just about the most predictable, kneejerk, run-of-the mill concept for a capitalist setting, therefore, all it really tests is compliance with the rest of the money-making machinery.

But I prefer to look for the positives. Here, then, is a subjective and tongue-in-cheek list of ten alternatives to a Turing test. These might just help you distinguish a machine from a human being - or deliver some surprises as you subject your supposedly human friends to these tribulations - or, at the very least, make you laugh and/or think again. Here goes.

If you want to determine whether you're dealing with a human or a machine, and would rather not rely on a Turing test, you can ask the candidate to:

  1. Make two cups of your favourite beverage - one for you and one for themselves - without being specifically asked to do so, and exactly at the time of day which turns out to be right for it.
  2. Vote in the upcoming election in their area, and successfully convince 4 other entities to vote as well.
  3. Exhibit a small annoying, and yet endearing personal habit, at random moments, over the course of several days. Upon being asked to stop, react by a) saying something like, "Oh my, I had no idea, sorry!" followed shortly by b) saying, with embarrassment, "I'm doing it again, aren't I?"
  4. Lie to a cop. (Not "bullshit a cop" - lie to them. There's a difference.)
  5. Get ridiculously excited as they describe a dish or recipe they just remembered from their childhood.
  6. Interrupt a white dude when he's speaking.
  7. Do something that's clearly not profitable, or logical, or acceptable, or even reasonably expected in the circumstances - and fail to provide reasons, when asked, beyond that "I just felt like it."
  8. Cry at a good film.
  9. Instantly come up with an excuse for your bad behaviour that puts them in trouble instead of you - and deliver said excuse in public to take the heat.
  10. Be a witness and/or an ally (skillfully, or ineptly, but earnestly) to someone they don't know but who they find to be bullied, harassed or belittled.

Bonus point: alternative 11 would be "expand this list with 2-3 more ideas" !

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