Intelligent Life

Rory O’Connell at The Point:

Turing’s famous criterion for intelligence, the Turing test, is dialectically ingenious. Instead of defending the very idea of a thinking machine, which would involve nothing less than an inquiry into the essence not only of machines but of thinking, Turing lays down a gauntlet: if a machine passed the test described, how could you refuse to grant it intelligence? If you do, you will owe us an explanation as to why. Turing thinks you will have difficulty finding one: when it comes to intelligence, he thinks, talking the talk is walking the walk. And if you admit that you would grant such a machine intelligence, then “Can machines think?” is a question that will be answered through design and engineering. 

Turing’s strategy is sound if we grant that everything, in principle, can be created, or replicated, by intentional design. If that assumption is mistaken, however, Turing’s substitution of questions—replacing the “whether” for the “how”—is far less benign.

more here.