Posts for January 10, 2005

Cogito Ergo Q

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Most artists interested in the relations between media and consciousness are familiar with the 'Turing test,' a procedure which forces us to confront how an artificial intelligence might be able to pose as human. The '20Q test' may soon become just as important for media artists. Invented by Ottowa-based developer Robin Burgener, 20Q is a version of the traditional 'twenty questions' game in which an online intelligence reads a human player's thoughts with startling accuracy. Working with some 10,000,000 synaptic connections, the website is even able to account for false steps in players' reasoning. The more people visit 20Q, the better it gets at guessing, making startling connections based on a logic that transcends any one individual's ideas (the site's handlers even claim that it 'seems to be developing a warped sense of humor' all on its own.) The '20Q test' turns the 'Turing test' around. In the latter, an artificial intelligence can pose as authentic. In 2OQ, one experiences how 'authentic,' personal thoughts can be reduced to chains of connections that seem completely artificial. - Ben Davis

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