A Minimal Turing Test: Reciprocal Sensorimotor Contingencies for Interaction Detection

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 14:481235 (2020)
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In the classical Turing test, participants are challenged to tell whether they are interacting with another human being or with a machine. The way the interaction takes place is not direct, but a distant conversation through computer screen messages. Basic forms of interaction are face-to-face and embodied, context-dependent and based on the detection of reciprocal sensorimotor contingencies. Our idea is that interaction detection requires the integration of proprioceptive and interoceptive patterns with sensorimotor patterns, within quite short time lapses, so that they appear as mutually contingent, as reciprocal. In other words, the experience of interaction takes place when sensorimotor patterns are contingent upon one’s own movements, and vice versa. I react to your movement, you react to mine. When I notice both components, I come to experience an interaction. Therefore, we designed a “minimal” Turing test to investigate how much information is required to detect these reciprocal sensorimotor contingencies. Using a new version of the perceptual crossing paradigm, we tested whether participants resorted to interaction detection to tell apart human from machine agents in repeated encounters with these agents. In two studies, we presented participants with movements of a human agent, either online or offline, and movements of a computerized oscillatory agent in three different blocks. In each block, either auditory or audiovisual feedback was provided along each trial. Analysis of participants’ explicit responses and of the implicit information subsumed in the dynamics of their series will reveal evidence that participants use the reciprocal sensorimotor contingencies within short time windows. For a machine to pass this minimal Turing test, it should be able to generate this sort of reciprocal contingencies.

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