, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 29-39

The Cartesian Test for Automatism1

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Abstract

In Part V of his Discourse on the Method, Descartes introduces a test for distinguishing people from machines that is similar to the one proposed much later by Alan Turing. The Cartesian test combines two distinct elements that Keith Gunderson has labeled the language test and the action test. Though traditional interpretation holds that the action test attempts to determine whether an agent is acting upon principles, I argue that the action test is best understood as a test of common sense. I also maintain that this interpretation yields a stronger test than Turing's, and that contemporary artificial intelligence should consider using it as a guide for future research.