Could crowdsourcing help pass the Turing Test?

Which is which, and why? Click image for source.

Which is which, and why? Click image for source.

I haven’t been blogging much recently. This is mainly because I haven’t been able to think about anything to blog about.

But the other day something did pop into my head, so here goes…

Could crowdsourcing help pass the Turing Test?

The Turing Test is basically this: you have a person typing at two screens. One of them is hooked up to a computer, the other is hooked up to a human being. If the person typing at the screens cannot tell which is the computer, then the test has been passed, because the computer’s output is indistinguishable from the human’s.

There have been several attempts at passing the test and while, each year, someone ‘wins’, the results are generally not too great, because, well, it’s fairly obvious that they weren’t generated by real people.

So, how about this: you start crowdsourcing it. You set up a system that enables people to:

  • type in specific call/responses
  • type in responses to other people’s calls
  • type in calls to other people’s responses
  • vote the best calls up or down, as per Digg

As the database grows, the system starts being able simply to match patterns and give appropriate responses. And if that doesn’t work, then build in some software in the background that helps it along, so it’s not just straight pattern-matching but uses a bit of semantic nous to choose the right one.

So, this wouldn’t be intelligence. Then again, neither is playing chess, and yet that was once touted as something only humans could do. Turns out it’s just a case of matching sophisticated heuristics to loads of number-crunching. Crowdsourcing the Turing Test would be much the same thing. It would be interesting to see whether something that is unashamedly unintelligent could pass the ultimate intelligence test.

Anyway, that’s what popped into my head. I’m sure someone else has thought of this before – this comes close, with a nice nod to using Twitter to ‘mask’ the inadequacies of such a system (and most of the humans) – but if you think this is a crazy idea, let me know. If you don’t, don’t.

The PR Friendly Index is no more

After a lot of dithering I’ve decided to shelve the PR Friendly Index.

I learned a lot while putting it together, but I think it’s served its purpose now. I just noticed that it’s attracting a lot of attention today for some reason, and I don’t think it’s good to have something so out of date online any longer.

It was an interesting exercise in bean-counting but I think we’ve all moved on since. We now talk more about influence and change than about numbers; there are many more platforms and channels with which to express yourself, or which a brand can use, so they need to be taken into account too; and blogging seems to me to be declining in importance anyway.

Also it became apparent to me recently that a lot of the blogs on the PR Friendly Index are talking about social media rather than PR now. That in itself is fascinating, and I wonder how this will change over the coming year. But it does sort of make the title a bit of a nonsense, and therefore the whole premise.

Plus, it basically turned into a nightmare to manage. I figured out semi-automated ways of putting it together but just as I got one process nailed, another would break. It was like trying to fit a carpet – push one bit down, another pops up. Plus I would have to enter into correspondence with people who were aggrieved that they weren’t on it, or queried my results.

You can see past versions of the PR Friendly index in previous posts but, if you want a good, regularly updated, reliable listof blogs and bloggers in advertising, marketing and media, go to Todd Andrlik’s Power 150. He’s the one who started this all anyway, so it’s fitting that it all should come back to him.

links for 2009-11-13