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Blind man’s bluff and the Turing test

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Document pages: 8 pages

Abstract: It seems plausible that under the conditions of the Turing test, congenitally blind people could nevertheless, with sufficient preparation, successfully represent themselves to remotely located interrogators as sighted. Having never experienced normal visual sensations, the successful blind player can prevail in this test only by playing a ‘lying game’—imitating the phenomenological claims of sighted people, in the absence of the qualitative visual experiences to which such statements purportedly refer. This suggests that a computer or robot might pass the Turing test in the same way, in the absence not only of visual experience, but qualitative consciousness in general. Hence, the standard Turing test does not provide a valid criterion for the presence of consciousness. A ‘sensorimetric’ version of the Turing test fares no better, for the apparent correlations we observe between cognitive functions and qualitative conscious experiences seems to be contingent, not necessary. We must therefore define consciousness not in terms of its causes and effects, but rather, in terms of the distinctive properties of its content, such as its possession of qualitative character and apparent intrinsic value—the property which confers upon consciousness its moral significance. As a means of determining whether or nor a machine is conscious, in this sense, an alternative to the standard Turing test is proposed.

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