Monday, May 04, 2009

A new way to educate the public

How well known is the concept of the Turing Test? Readers of this blog know what it is. On Google it gets 2,360,000 hits. It has a Wikipedia entry: here. None of these mean that the public knows what it is.

I didn't think it was well known. However, in Roger Ebert's review of the movie X-men Origins: Wolverine he titles the review
A monosyllabic superhero who wouldn't pass the Turing Test.
In the review he never mentions the Turing Test or what it means. Does he expect his readers to know? Do they? Does the general public know what the Turing Test is? Will readers of the Ebert's column go to Wikipedia to find out? Might this be a way to educate people?

CHALLENGE TO MY READERS: find a movie whose review could illustrate a computer science or math concept. Here is one: The Usual Suspects:
As complicated an enjoyable as the classical proof of van der Waerden's theorem.


  1. PI: This movie just went on forever.

    By the way, is Die Hard #3 an educational movie since Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson had to get 4 gallons with only 3 and 5 gallon jugs?

  2. "A monosyllabic superhero who wouldn't pass the Turing Test."

    Didn't they do an experiment a few years back where humans were failing the Turing Test which proved that the computers had won?

  3. Pardon my ignorance, but what does Van der Waerden's theorem have to do with computer science?

  4. Anon 3: I asked for a computer science or Math
    concept, so VDW would qualify. Also there have
    been some applications of
    VDW theorem and variants
    of it to CS. See my website
    of Apps of Ramsey Theory to
    Comp Sci which also points to some nice surveys.

  5. Here is one that can apply to all too many movies and TV series: "Whose plot could have been the output of a deterministic finite state machine".

    On a more serious note, I am not sure if the Turing Test really qualifies as a CS concept, maybe more as a "Philosophy of CS" concept.

  6. "Philosophy of CS"Eldar, I'm glad you made the distinction. I think the more we cut ourselves into pieces the better off we will be. (NOT!)

  7. About the Turing Test... a grad student friend of mine recently convinced me that this is in fact the best possible comic you could make about the TT:

  8. Interesting thought. I guess with Watson being built to challenge humans at Jeopardy, we may as well soon have machines that pass the Turing test in its true sense.