Man vs. Machine Debate to be tested at Public Lecture

Is it possible for a machine to exhibit intelligent ‘thought’ indistinguishable from that of a human? This has been a prominent debate in artificial intelligence since mathematician, computer science pioneer and Second World War code breaker Alan Turing first developed his ‘Turing Test’ for that purpose.

On Wednesday 13th of May, Coventry University’s deputy vice chancellor for research Professor Kevin Warwick will deliver a lecture; “Turing’s Imitation Game” discussing the societal ramifications of last years landmark moment in artificial intelligence in which a computer did in-fact trick people into thinking it was a human being.

In June 2014 on the 60th anniversary of Turing’s death, ‘Eugene Grootsman’, a computer programme developed by Russian born Vladimir Veselov, convinced judges at the Royal Society Event that it was a human being with the ‘personality’ of 13 year old boy. Surpassing the 30% mark, this was the first time a non-human being had ever done this.

An incredible and momentous achievement, yes. But what danger does this pose to society, now that computers can potentially ‘think’? Does this mean we could end up falling victims of cybercrime and identity theft at the hands of, well, a being with no hands?

Professor Kevin Warwick said:

“The idea that a computer can convince people into believing that it is not a machine but rather a human being is a fascinating and potentially frightening concept in today’s online, connected world. So my lecture next week will explore the implications of last year’s Royal Society experiment.

“I want to examine what this means for all of us in an age of online communication and internet transactions but I want to have some fun too so I can promise the audience that – in tune with the subject matter – this will be very much an interactive event.”

Allowing for some of those who are attending to participate in a Turing style test, the lecture will be light-hearted in parts. However, it will also draw upon points from his co-authored future publishing with Huma Shah “Can Machines Think? A Report on Turing Test Experiments at the Royal Society”.

Professor Kevin Warwick’s lecture will be from 4pm to 5pm on Wednesday 13 May at the Coventry University Techno Centre, Puma Way, Coventry CV1 2TT. The lecture is completely free to attend but you must book online in advance. For more information and to register to attend, head to the CU website.



Ryan Walker