Minimum Intelligent Signal Test

Minimum Intelligent Signal Test

Minimum Intelligent Signal Test

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The Minimum Intelligent Signal Test, or MIST, is a variation of the Turing test proposed by Chris McKinstry in which only boolean (yes/no or true/false) answers may be given to questions. The purpose of such a test is to provide a quantitative statistical measure of humanness, which may subsequently be used to optimize the performance of artificial intelligence systems intended to imitate human responses.

McKinstry gathered approximately 80,000 propositions that could be answered yes or no, e.g.:

  • Is Earth a planet?


  • Was Abraham Lincoln once President of the United States?


  • Is the sun bigger than my foot?


  • Do people sometimes lie?


He called these propositions Mindpixels.

These questions test both specific knowledge of aspects of culture, and basic facts about the meaning of various words and concepts. It could therefore be compared with the SAT, intelligence testing and other controversial measures of mental ability. McKinstry's aim was not to distinguish between shades of intelligence but to identify whether a computer program could be considered intelligent at all.

According to McKinstry, a program able to do much better than chance on a large number of MIST questions would be judged to have some level of intelligence and understanding. For example, on a 20-question test, if a program were guessing the answers at random, it could be expected to score 10 correct on average. But the probability of a program scoring 20 out of 20 correct by guesswork is only one...
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