We (collectively, as humanity) have given quite a lot of thought to recognizing artificial conscious beings. We may not have a consensus, but at least we have a debate.

Now, let's imagine that a company like those that own ChatGPT, OpenAI, etc announced that it developed strong AI. To be more precise, let's say that the claim is "self conscious and self aware artificial being".

Judging by the latest trends, such technology would probably start as closed beta, then would be paid.

Now, such a model allows for a simple yet effective fraud - you put humans on the other side of the cable. It would require work on knowledge sharing (if you say X on one machine, another machine should, at some point, be aware of X too), but that is a matter of good automation and engineering. The strategy of slowly growing the userbase at a controlled pace would be familiar to the public, yet very helpful to the scam.


What is the "reverse Turing test"? How do we prove that the agent claiming to be strong AI is in fact human?

Initially the latter sentence was phrased as "How do we disprove that the other end of the conversation is artificial?", but I realized that it's not the same as the question I really wanted to ask.

Precise setup

  • as stated before, the claim is "self conscious and self aware artificial being"
  • all the communications happen over an internet page
  • there is a phase where the product is totally internal to the company, then another where it is used by a very limited set of users, then a phase when users need to pay to use the product (conduct conversations)
  • fact propagation is present (fact stated in one session is at some point "available to the product" in another session)
  • fact propagation time grows with the number of parallel sessions (it would make sense that such a distributed entity would delegate agents to conduct conversations and periodically merge them into its core; on another hand that could also indicate a delay in data propagation in a system that guides the humans acting as AI sessions)
  • the agent that is claimed to be conscious passed the Turing test
    • this constraint is raised in response to this answer
    • the aforementioned Turing test was conducted in its simplest form (as above, remote communication sessions, one-on-one, not group chats), but on rather large number of people (1000+ with statistically adequate number of artificial agents); constraints that are considered to be standard (e.g. "no politics") were applied
    • long story short, intuitively, you'd say "it passed a serious Turing test" in a casual conversation; this topic would not be purely philosophical, it would have serious real-world / law-forming consequences
    • the experiment we're looking for is not necessarily constrained in the same way as the Turing test; it means that even if during Turing test we said "no politics", we still can do reasoning based on response to "what do you think of Trumps ideas on economy?" to establish if we're talking to a human or not
  • ... (TBD in discussion, if needed)
  • 2
    Detecting scams isn't philosophy's task. The Turing test is of interest because it is challenging and controversial to formulate what intelligence is conceptually, there is no such problem with formulating what is artificial or fake. The "reverse Turing test" is a matter for computer scientists and law enforcement.
    – Conifold
    May 1, 2023 at 22:28
  • 1
    As a warmup, explain to me how you know that your next door neighbor is sentient.
    – user4894
    May 1, 2023 at 23:57
  • i think in future the most part of tested that failed exam will be an ordinary sacks with meat, not AI. the reverse test needs the reverse logic May 2, 2023 at 0:13
  • "Detecting scams isn't philosophy's task." - but laying a mental framework for thinking about as-of-now hypothetical situations to prepare for oncoming issues is, I'd say. "Normal" Turing test originated in computer science field, but is fully technology-agnostic and in fact presents a philosophical question. May 2, 2023 at 10:57
  • 1
    This may help: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – user64314
    May 3, 2023 at 3:44

3 Answers 3


This is an anti-inductive question to some degree - I won't say any method we come up with will also guaranteed have a counter, but a lot of initially-plausible methods will end up being fakeable.

That said, speed is a plausible candidate to start off: human reaction times are relatively slow, and one of the issues that required solving in Turing tests was "getting the chatbot to slow down its responses to a plausibly-human speed". This wasn't hard for the programmers designing the chatbots, but it nonetheless required attention.

That, though, brings up the "fakeable" part: the would-be faker doesn't have to be just a biological human; they could have a capable-but-still-non-sapient chatbot handle the parts requiring inhuman speed, and attempt to take over for the parts requiring human insight. This might break down for, e.g., sufficiently long and original essays, or asking for non-keyboard characters in the responses, but those can similarly be planned for and programmed against.

  • Fair points, though these are already issues that has(ish) been solved. I believe we're looking for something that cannot be faked even if the setup is known, similarly as with Turing test (well, to some degree). May 1, 2023 at 20:59
  • As an afterthought, I'm gonna elaborate on the fact, that the agent claimed to be conscious passes Turing test in its simplest form. May 1, 2023 at 21:03

Generally "strong AI" does not mean "human-like" AI. Even "self conscious and self aware artificial being" does not imply human-likeness. Humans have personality and flaws caused by the make of our brain/mind, whereas AIs would have different flaws and possibly different personalities. As a commercial product, we can expect ai "personality" to be very restricted and standardized to fit a purpose, rather than "growing naturally". Most realistic applications of AI would likely not to be human-like, but better than human in some respects for their given intended usage. As an example being available 24/7 without tiring, bring faster, less emotionally frail, less agressive, less demanding, more knowledgeable...

However assume a company claimed that it has created an AI indistinguishable from human Jane Doe living in Ohio. And then by interacting with this, you feel like you're actually interacting with a human Jane Doe in Ohio. Then philosophically there is no way from the interaction to tell whether you were interacting with a human or whether that company was successful. Any hint you would get that this "might be a human instead" could be a clever trick by the company to make their product more human-like.

  • I very much agree. I've been wondering, what kinds of traits that you've mentioned (never tiring, and so forth) are not perfectly fakeable (even if faked, it shows sometimes). I imagine that "here's an artificial Joe Doe for ya" would be way too unbelievable, so we're looking for things that are too human to be artificial. May 3, 2023 at 22:17

Amusingly, this "con" actually happened once. From Wiki:

The Mechanical Turk was a fraudulent chess-playing machine constructed in 1770 by a certain Wolfgang von Kempelen to impress Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

In actual fact, a human chess master was hiding inside to operate the machine. The Turk -- or rather, the successive chess masters hiding in it -- won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.

  • Yep, thinking about the Turk (among other things) made me think of this. I'd love to upvote, but not sure if that qualifies as an answer. Oct 2, 2023 at 22:25
  • @FilipMalczak Right, it was more of an anecdote. The answer would be that there is indeed money to be made by faking AI, as proven by the Turk. In fact, Big Blue (the IBM machine that beat Kasparov) was not that different: it's codes and weights were regularly tweaked and updated by a whole team of grandmasters, even during the match with Kasparov. So it was human-enhanced AI.
    – Olivier5
    Oct 3, 2023 at 8:55
  • We are most amused! 😊
    – Hudjefa
    Oct 30, 2023 at 16:45

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