Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Peanut Butter Intelligence Test

This accompanying note says something about how old this is:
While waiting around for to get created, I thought
I would make a proposal for an alternative to the Turing Test
for intelligence. 

It is called the Peanut Butter Test. 

The Peanut Butter Test, like the Turing Test, has the drawback/
strength of relying on one entity which is assumed to be
intelligent to determine whether another entity is intelligent.

However, the Peanut Butter Test, unlike the Turing Test, does
not rely on a definition of intelligence as being the ability
to successfully mimic an assumed intelligence.  Instead,
intelligence is defined as the ability to manipulate the
environment in such a way that a continued desirable interface
with the environment is assured.  In other words, forces
contained in the environment which might disrupt the desirable
interface are anticipated and countered.  An entity which can
do this successfully in a complex and threatening environment
would be classified as intelligent.  A desirable interface
could mean anything, but for the Peanut Butter Test, I propose
that it be peanut butter. 

As you may begin to guess, a major ingredient to the Peanut
Butter Test is goals.  Goals are the desirable interface.
I think peanut butter is a good choice because it is fairly
simple, instead of something like money or happiness, which
no one understands (read, knows how to describe).  I personally
believe that to be intelligent, a thing must be able to learn,
and to effectively learn, it must have goals or needs to direct the

Now, suppose a machine is built, and we want to know if it
is intelligent.  We give the machine a taste for peanut butter,
perhaps by attaching a chemical sensor to it which stimulates
a reinforcement circuit or program whenever peanut butter is
detected by the sensor.  It would also make things more interesting
if the peanut butter were "consumed" after being sensed, perhaps
by arranging the machine to be powered by burning peanut butter,
but this is not strictly necessary.  Then, we take the machine out
into some fairly interesting and complex environment like the
wilds of North Dakota or the wilds of downtown Boston, Mass. and
bid it goodbye. 

After a period of time, maybe a couple of years, we go and look
up our machine and see how it is doing.  If it is still sitting
in the same place, with rancid peanut butter stuck on its
sensor, then there is not much to conclude.  However, if it turned
out that the rain had washed away its initial supply of peanut
butter, and it had gone out in search of more, and in the
process of doing that had learned how to speak French, and had
acquired controlling stock in a peanut butter company, and had
acquired several parcels of prime peanut growing land, and was
simply rolling in peanut butter, then we can conclude that our
machine has gone out and assured itself of a continuous supply
of peanut butter regardless of the vagaries of the environment,
and is therefore intelligent. 

                            Tom Portegys, BTL IH, ...ihuxv!portegys

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