Autism, Artificial Intelligence and the Turing Test

Autism and the Turing Test

At the start of the (sci-fi) film The Machine a panel sat before an array of computers, each relating to an A.I. with voice synthesisers. (Similar, I guess, to existing tournaments). The problem posed in the film wasn’t which was an AI (as all were), but which was the most promising/interesting one; which gave the ‘best’ answer to the posed problem.

Consider this (genuine) conversation with an autistic child.

“Pass the newspaper, please”

“Where is it?”

“It is on the couch”

“There is no newspaper on the couch”

“Yes there is, pass me the newspaper from the couch, please.”

“There is no newspaper on the couch,”

“Can you see the newspaper?”

“Yes, I can see the newspaper,”

“Where is the newspaper?”

“The newspaper is on a cushion,”

“Where is the cushion?”

“The cushion is on the couch,”

“Can you pass me the newspaper, which in on the cushion, on the couch, please?”

“Yes, there you go.”

Anyone that played early text adventures (Colossal Cave, for instance) would be familiar with the frustration of the above conversation. No doubt anyone else with autistic friends and family will have their own versions too.

Now, if a “computer” answered in such a rigid, literal style, would you assume it was an A.I. replying?

So, my question is this (posed to academics in a closed forum), within relation to the Theory of Mind and AI and Autism, has anyone written papers / research along these lines:

Given an IBM Watson/Jeopardy class version of Eliza and a handful of autistic spectrum children/adults particants against a ‘normal’ panel, who would fair better? In these circumstances, to what degree would the panel assume the AI was real over the participants? Has such research been attempted and if so were the results significant (in a psychological definition).

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