Turing Tests as Reflexive Experimental Apparatus

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Redstone, Joshua




Over half a century ago, Alan Turing proposed "the Imitation Game" as a test of whether machines such as digital computers can be said to think. Subsequent discussion of Turing tests -- human-machine interactions that are importantly similar to Turing's original Imitation Game -- has been limited in its understanding of what they are good for, viewing them as good either for prompting philosophical reflection on the limits of our concept of the mental or for addressing empirical questions about the machines involved in human-machine interactions. This project is an attempt to expand our understanding of what Turing tests are good for: my novel proposal is that they are good for addressing empirical questions about the humans involved in human-machine interactions. More simply put, I argue Turing tests are useful not merely as conceptual prompts or non-reflexive experimental apparatus, but as reflexive experimental apparatus. I begin with an examination of Turing's own work and of the subsequent discussion's limited understanding of the usefulness of Turing tests as either conceptual prompts or non-reflexive experimental apparatus. I then lay out the key elements of my novel proposal that they are useful as reflexive experimental apparatus. Finally, I offer a "proof of concept" for this novel proposal by describing and discussing the results of one preliminary attempt to use Turing tests as reflexive experimental apparatus.


Psychology - Experimental
Artificial Intelligence




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Cognitive Science

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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