On the Claim that a Table-Lookup Program Could Pass the Turing Test

Minds and Machines 24 (2):143-188 (2014)


The claim has often been made that passing the Turing Test would not be sufficient to prove that a computer program was intelligent because a trivial program could do it, namely, the “Humongous-Table (HT) Program”, which simply looks up in a table what to say next. This claim is examined in detail. Three ground rules are argued for: (1) That the HT program must be exhaustive, and not be based on some vaguely imagined set of tricks. (2) That the HT program must not be created by some set of sentient beings enacting responses to all possible inputs. (3) That in the current state of cognitive science it must be an open possibility that a computational model of the human mind will be developed that accounts for at least its nonphenomenological properties. Given ground rule 3, the HT program could simply be an “optimized” version of some computational model of a mind, created via the automatic application of program-transformation rules [thus satisfying ground rule 2]. Therefore, whatever mental states one would be willing to impute to an ordinary computational model of the human psyche one should be willing to grant to the optimized version as well. Hence no one could dismiss out of hand the possibility that the HT program was intelligent. This conclusion is important because the Humongous-Table Program Argument is the only argument ever marshalled against the sufficiency of the Turing Test, if we exclude arguments that cognitive science is simply not possible

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Author's Profile

Drew McDermott
Yale University

References found in this work

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
Minds, Brains, and Programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Computing Machinery and Intelligence.Alan M. Turing - 1950 - Mind 59 (October):433-60.
Readings in Philosophy of Psychology: 1.Ned Joel Block (ed.) - 1980 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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