Skip to main content

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

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XXXIII (SGAI 2016)


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Burden, D.J.: Deploying embodied AI into virtual worlds. Knowl.-Based Syst. 22(7), 540–544 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Wakefield, J.: Intelligent Machines: chatting with the bots. BBC Web Site. (2015). Accessed 30 May 2016

  3. Turing, A.M.: Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind 59, 433–460 (1950)

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  4. Bradeško, L., Mladenić, D.: A survey of chatbot systems through a loebner prize competition. In: Proceedings of Slovenian Language Technologies Society Eighth Conference of Language Technologies, pp. 34–37 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cooper, S.B., Van Leeuwen, J. (eds.) Alan Turing: His Work and Impact. Elsevier (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Shieber, S.M.: Lessons from a restricted Turing test (1994). arXiv:cmp-lg/9404002

  7. Mauldin, M.L.: Chatterbots, tinymuds, and the turing test: entering the Loebner prize competition. AAAI 94, 16–21 (1994)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Heiser, J.F., Colby, K.M., Faught, W.S., Parkison, R.C.: Can psychiatrists distinguish a computer simulation of paranoia from the real thing?: The limitations of turing-like tests as measures of the adequacy of simulations. J. Psychiatr. Res. 15(3), 149–162 (1979)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kurzweil, R.: Why we can be confident of Turing test capability within a quarter century. In: The Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference: The next 50 Years, Hanover, NH (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gilbert, R.L., Forney, A.: Can avatars pass the Turing test? Intelligent agent perception in a 3D virtual environment. Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Stud. 73, 30–36 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Savin-Baden, M., Bhakta, R., Burden, D.: Cyber Enigmas? passive detection and pedagogical agents: can students spot the fake? In: Proceedings of Networked Learning Conference (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Zelditch, M.: 2 theories of legitimacy in the psychology of legitimacy: emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations, pp. 33–53. Cambridge University Press (2001)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Burke, M., Joyce, E., Kim, T., Anand, V., Kraut, R.: Introductions and requests: rhetorical strategies that elicit response in online communities. In: Communities and Technologies 2007, pp. 21–39. Springer, London (2007)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Wilcox, B., Suzette, W.S.: The most human computer. (2016). Accessed 30 May 2016

  15. Warwick, K., Shah, H.: Taking the fifth amendment in Turing’s imitation game. J. Exp. Theor. Artif. Intell. 1–11 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. J. H. Burden .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing AG

About this paper

Cite this paper

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.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-47174-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-47175-4

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics