Discussion papers

CPM-02-95 - 1 May 2002

The Social Embedding of Intelligence. Towards producing a machine that could pass the Turing Test

Bruce Edmonds

To be published as: Edmonds, B. (in press) The Social Embedding of Intelligence – Towards producing a machine that could pass the Turing Test. In Peters, G. and Epstein, R. (eds.) The Turing Test Sourcebook: Philosophical and Methodological Issues in the Quest for the Thinking Computer, Kluwer.


I claim that in order to pass the Turing Test over any period of extended time, it will necessary to embed the entity into society. This chapter discusses why this is, and how it might be brought about. I start by arguing that intelligence is better characterised by tests of social interaction, especially in open-ended and extended situations. I then argue that learning is an essential component of intelligence and hence that a universal intelligence is impossible. These two arguments support the relevance of Turing Test as a particular but appropriate test of interactive intelligence. I look to the human case to argue that individual intelligence utilises society to a considerable extent for its development. Taking a lead from the human case I outline how a socially embedded artificial intelligence might be brought about in terms of four aspects: free-will, emotion, empathy and self-modelling. In each case I try to specify what social ‘hooks’ might be required in order for the full ability to develop during a considerable period of in situ acculturation. The chapter ends by speculating what it might be like to live with the result.

This paper incorporates material from the following previous CPM-reports:

  • CPM-98-42 The Contribution of Society to the Construction of Individual Intelligence – Bruce Edmonds and Kerstin Dautenhahn
  • CPM-99-53 The Constructability of Artificial Intelligence (as defined by the Turing Test) – Bruce Edmonds
  • CPM-00-57 Towards Implementing Free Will – Bruce Edmonds
  • CPM-00-58 Developing Agents Who Can Relate To Us – putting agents in our loop via situated self-creation – Bruce Edmonds