Want to convince someone you’re not a robot? Use the word ‘poop’


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We’ve all heard of the Turing Test, designed in 1950 by Alan Turing in a test of a machine’s ability to mimic human behavior.

But researchers at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania tried to do something a little different. They tried to create a Minimal Turing Test. Well sort of.

They asked themselves a question: If you could only use one word to convince a human you weren’t a robot, which word would you choose?

One thousand participants suggested 400 words. The most commonly suggested words related to concepts most people think an artificial intelligence might have difficulty understanding — words like “love” or “soul”. But plenty of words were suggested more than once, words like “compassion” or “mercy”. Even swear words like “shit”. One curious choice made by a number of people: “please”.

The researchers put all the suggested words into distinct categories, and then selected the most nominated word from each category.

Those words were: “love”, “please”, “mercy”, “human”, “compassion”, “empathy”, “robot”, “banana”, “alive” and “poop”.


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The next step: Show 2,000 new participants a random combination of two of these 10 words, and have them select which word they thought was chosen by a human, and the word chosen by a robot.

The word most likely to convince another human being you’re not a robot?

Ladies and gentlemen, that word is “poop”.

To be clear, robots or AI were not involved in this test — it was a purely psychological experiment, designed to see which word would most likely convince other human beings that someone else was also human.

And when you think about it, poop makes sense. I see that word and I’m thinking “robots can’t poop”. Poop would be a remarkably difficult word for an artificial intelligence to parse, let alone use in an attempt to convince human beings it wasn’t a robot.

You can check out the full study in ScienceDirect.

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