A Chinese Room with a View
These days the name of Alan Turing is associated as much with computers as the name Isaac Newton is with gravity. Quite rightly so. Whilst his work on cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park during World War Two might cause some to consider him a shadowy figure in the world of twentieth century espionage, I would like to think that in the long historical view it will be a thought experiment of his that will be remembered most of all - the Turing Test . In its simplest form the test states that if an interrogator having a conversation over a keyboard (online chat, basically) with a second party cannot distinguish between a real person and a computer program, then the computer (program) could be said to be thinking. Even though this once thought experiment has now been carried out in reality, (most notably at the Loebner Prize which has been carried out annually since 1991) no-one yet wants to stick their neck out and claim that a machine has definitely passed and ipso facto can think.