Humans and Machines Making Beautiful Music Together – Slate Magazine

But perhaps “Can machines produce art that passes as human?” is the wrong kind of question. The testing context makes Turing’s challenge feel adversarial—as though the programmer (let’s not forget that deep down an actual person or group of people wrote the program) has prepared to engage in a battle of wits with the human. But a more useful and interesting framing might be one of collaboration, which is arguably closer to the conversational dynamic. In a conversation we “dance around topics,” we “meet someone where he is,” we “draw someone out.” We engage in a good “back and forth.” A skilled conversationalist responds as well as initiates and even knows when to be quiet. In the 1931 version of Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster passed a Turing test with a blind man by grunting through a conversation. In short, conversation is not (generally) rhetorical target practice, but rather a collaborative creative act. Passing the Turing test means that a machine can be a partner with a human in that collaboration—and that’s what we take as a sign of intelligence. The collaborative framing is increasingly important in our human-machine future, especially in the context of the workplace. The fact is that both species (!) bring something to the table, and one of the most important questions we (humans) face is how we can work productively and rewardingly with, as opposed to instead of, machines.

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