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Covert Implementations of the Turing Test: A More Level Playing Field?


It has been suggested that a covert Turing Test, possibly in a virtual world, provides a more level playing field for a chatbot, and hence an earlier opportunity to pass the Turing Test (or equivalent) in its overt, declared form. This paper looks at two recent covert Turing Tests in order to test this hypothesis. In one test (at Loyola Marymount) run as a covert-singleton test, of 50 subjects who talked to the chatbot avatar 39 (78 % deception) did not identify that the avatar was being driven by a chatbot. In a more recent experiment at the University of Worcester groups of students took part in a set of problem-based learning chat sessions, each group having an undeclared chatbot. Not one participant volunteered the fact that a chatbot was present (a 100 % deception rate). However the chatbot character was generally seen as being the least engaged participant—highlighting that a chatbot needs to concentrate on achieving legitimacy once it can successfully escape detection.


  • Turing Test
  • Natural Language
  • Chatbot
  • Virtual worlds
  • Second Life

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Correspondence to D. J. H. Burden .

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Burden, D.J.H., Savin-Baden, M., Bhakta, R. (2016). Covert Implementations of the Turing Test: A More Level Playing Field?. In: Bramer, M., Petridis, M. (eds) Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XXXIII. SGAI 2016. Springer, Cham.

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