A Wager on the Turing Test: The Rules

April 9, 2002 by Mitch Kapor, Ray Kurzweil

An explanation of rules behind the Turing Test, used to determine the winner of a long bet between Ray Kurzweil and Mitch Kapor over whether artificial intelligence will be achieved by 2029.

Published April 9, 2002 on KurzweilAI.net. Click here to see why Ray Kurzweil thinks he will win. Click here to read why Mitch Kapor thinks he’ll win. Finally, see Ray’s response.

Background on the “Long Now Turing Test Wager.” Ray Kurzweil maintains that a computer (i.e., a machine intelligence) will pass the Turing test by 2029. Mitchell Kapor believes this will not happen.

This wager is intended to be the inaugural long term bet to be administered by the Long Now Foundation. The proceeds of the wager are to be donated to a charitable organization designated by the winner.

This document provides a brief description of the Turing Test and a set of high level rules for administering the wager. These rules contemplate setting up a “Turing Test Committee” which will create the detailed rules and procedures to implement the resolution of the wager. A primary objective of the Turing Test Committee will be to set up rules and procedures that avoid and deter cheating.

Brief Description of the Turing test. In a 1950 paper (“Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind 59 (1950): 433- 460, reprinted in E. Feigenbaum and J. Feldman, eds., Computers and Thought, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), Alan Turing describes his concept of the Turing Test, in which one or more human judges interview computers and human foils using terminals (so that the judges won’t be prejudiced against the computers for lacking a human appearance). The nature of the dialog between the human judges and the candidates (i.e., the computers and the human foils) is similar to an online chat using instant messaging. The computers as well as the human foils try to convince the human judges of their humanness. If the human judges are unable to reliably unmask the computers (as imposter humans) then the computer is considered to have demonstrated human-level intelligence1.

Turing was very specifically nonspecific about many aspects of how to administer the test. He did not specify many key details, such as the duration of the interrogation and the sophistication of the human judge and foils. The purpose of the rules described below is to provide a set of procedures for administering the test some decades hence.

The Procedure for the Turing Test Wager: The Turing Test General Rules

These Turing Test General Rules may be modified by agreement of Ray Kurzweil and Mitchell Kapor, or, if either Ray Kurzweil and / or Mitchell Kapor is not available, then by the Turing Test Committee (described below). However, any such change to these Turing Test General Rules shall only be made if (i) these rules are determined to have an inconsistency, or (ii) these rules are determined to be inconsistent with Alan Turing’s intent of determining human-level intelligence in a machine, or (iii) these rules are determined to be unfair, or (iv) these rules are determined to be infeasible to implement.

I. Definitions.

A Human is a biological human person as that term is understood in the year 2001 whose intelligence has not been enhanced through the use of machine (i.e., nonbiological) intelligence, whether used externally (e.g., the use of an external computer) or internally (e.g., neural implants). A Human may not be genetically enhanced (through the use of genetic engineering) beyond the level of human beings in the year 2001.

A Computer is any form of nonbiological intelligence (hardware and software) and may include any form of technology, but may not include a biological Human (enhanced or otherwise) nor biological neurons (however, nonbiological emulations of biological neurons are allowed).

The Turing Test Committee will consist of three Humans, to be selected as described below.

The Turing Test Judges will be three Humans selected by the Turing Test Committee.

The Turing Test Human Foils will be three Humans selected by the Turing Test Committee.

The Turing Test Participants will be the three Turing Test Human Foils and one Computer.

II. The Procedure

The Turing Test Committee will be appointed as follows.

  • One member will be Ray Kurzweil or his designee, or, if not available, a person appointed by the Long Now Foundation. In the event that the Long Now Foundation appoints this person, it shall use its best efforts to appoint a Human person that best represents the views of Ray Kurzweil (as expressed in the attached essay “Why I Think I Will Win The Long Now Turing Test Wager.”)
  • A second member will be Mitchell Kapor or his designee, or, if not available, a person appointed by the Long Now Foundation. In the event that the Long Now Foundation appoints this person, it shall use its best efforts to appoint a Human person that best represents the views of Mitchell Kapor (as expressed in the attached essay “Why I Think I Will Win The Long Now Turing Test Wager.”)
  • A third member will be appointed by the above two members, or if the above two members are unable to agree, then by the Long Now Foundation, who in its judgment, is qualified to represent a “middle ground” position.

Ray Kurzweil, or his designee, or another member of the Turing Test Committee, or the Long Now Foundation may, from time to time call for a Turing Test Session to be conducted and will select or provide one Computer for this purpose. For those Turing Test Sessions called for by Ray Kurzweil or his designee or another member of the Turing Test committee (other than the final one in 2029), the person calling for the Turing Test Session to be conducted must provide (or raise) the funds necessary for the Turing Test Session to be conducted. In any event, the Long Now Foundation is not obligated to conduct more than two such Turing Test Sessions prior to the final one (in 2029) if it determines that conducting such additional Turing Test Sessions would be an excessive administrative burden.

The Turing Test Committee will provide the detailed rules and procedures to implement each such Turing Test Session using its best efforts to reflect the rules and procedures described in this document. The primary goal of the Turing Test Committee will be to devise rules and procedures which avoid and deter cheating to the maximum extent possible. These detailed rules and procedures will include (i) specifications of the equipment to be used, (ii) detailed procedures to be followed, (iii) specific instructions to be given to all participants including the Turing Test Judges, the Turing Test Human Foils and the Computer, (iv) verification procedures to assure the integrity of the proceedings, and (v) any other details needed to implement the Turing Test Session. Beyond the Turing Test General Rules described in this document, the Turing Test Committee will be guided to the best of its ability by the original description of the Turing Test by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper. The Turing Test Committee will also determine procedures to resolve any deadlocks that may occur in its own deliberations.

Each Turing Test Session will consist of at least three Turing Test Trials.

For each such Turing Test Trial, a set of Turing Test Interviews will take place, followed by voting by the Turing Test Judges as described below.

Using its best judgment, the Turing Test Committee will appoint three Humans to be the Turing Test Judges.

Using its best judgment, the Turing Test Committee will appoint three Humans to be the Turing Test Human Foils. The Turing Test Human Foils should not be known (either personally or by reputation) to the Turing Test Judges.

During the Turing Test Interviews (for each Turing Test Trial), each of the three Turing Test Judges will conduct online interviews of each of the four Turing Test Candidates (i.e., the Computer and the three Turing Test Human Foils) for two hours each for a total of eight hours of interviews conducted by each of the three Turing Test Judges (for a total of 24 hours of interviews).

The Turing Test Interviews will consist of online text messages sent back and forth as in a online “instant messaging” chat, as that concept is understood in the year 2001.

The Human Foils are instructed to try to respond in as human a way as possible during the Turing Test Interviews.

The Computer is also intended to respond in as human a way as possible during the Turing Test Interviews.

Neither the Turing Test Human Foils nor the Computer are required to tell the truth about their histories or other matters. All of the candidates are allowed to respond with fictional histories.

At the end of the interviews, each of the three Turing Test Judges will indicate his or her verdict with regard to each of the four Turing Test Candidates indicating whether or not said candidate is human or machine. The Computer will be deemed to have passed the “Turing Test Human Determination Test” if the Computer has fooled two or more of the three Human Judges into thinking that it is a human.

In addition, each of the three Turing Test Judges will rank the four Candidates with a rank from 1 (least human) to 4 (most human). The computer will be deemed to have passed the “Turing Test Rank Order Test” if the median rank of the Computer is equal to or greater than the median rank of two or more of the three Turing Test Human Foils.

The Computer will be deemed to have passed the Turing Test if it passes both the Turing Test Human Determination Test and the Turing Test Rank Order Test.

If a Computer passes the Turing Test, as described above, prior to the end of the year 2029, then Ray Kurzweil wins the wager. Otherwise Mitchell Kapor wins the wager.

1 Turing’s initial description of his test was as a parlor game in which judges try to determine the gender of male and female human contestants. He then suggests the applicability of this type of game to its present purpose of determining when the level of intelligence of a machine is indistinguishable from that of a human.