Turing's Imitation Game

Kevin Warwick & Huma Shah

Published by
Cambridge University Press
ISBN 9781107056381
RRP £25
Reviewed by Jim McGhie CEng MBCS CITP

8 out of 10

I first got to know about the Alan Turing test whilst a student of computing science many years ago. However I never really fully understood exactly what Turing was trying to achieve until I read the Imitation Game. The Game basically consists of an interrogator communicating with hidden human and machine personalities. The book explains in detail Turing’s aim in devising the test and his predictions surrounding the results. These have subsequently become fundamental to the science of artificial intelligence by providing an insight into how humans communicate.

Following a comprehensive introduction to the topic with short examples that allow readers to initially assess their own ‘man or machine’ judgment, the book moves on to provide a limited background to Turing the man. It mentions his work at Bletchley Park briefly and his involvement and contribution to the Ratio Club formed in 1949 to promote thinking about information processing in brains and machines.

The book then splits into two parts. The first part dealing with Turing’s ideas and writings on human computers and the imitation game concept. He considered the possibility of machines showing intelligent behaviour alongside humans’ attitude to machines, referring to them as exhibiting purely mechanical behaviour. What is it that makes us human?

Part two moves to present day experimental testing that has taken place at Reading University and Bletchley Park amongst others. Large sections of this part of the book are given over to examples of actual studies and events where testing has taken place. Judges competing against machines and humans where the judges are not aware of what or who they are.

The inclusion of example texts makes this book ideal source material for undergraduate courses in artificial intelligence, engineering or computer science. I award the book 8 out of 10 for its approach, coverage of the material and ease of reading.

Further information: Cambridge University Press

August 2018