In a room in one of the crew’s quarters, I saw a familiar face staring back at me from an easel. It was a Rembrandt, or rather it was the Next Rembrandt. Stuck in the middle of The Turing Test, I think this counts as a joke.
The Next Rembrandt isn’t really a Rembrandt, after all. It’s a computer-generated Rembrandt-alike, constructed from data regarding actual Rembrandts as a publicity stunt for a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation. If that doesn’t sound Blue Ant enough for you, get this: The Next Rembrandt is a median Rembrandt. It’s crunched the stats on many existing Rembrandts, from pose choice and clothing elements to facial geometry, and it’s then been put together based on a sort of midpoint of all the data. It is a Rembrandt reduction, concentrated from stewing in all that rich Rembrandt goodness. From the little I’ve read, the team behind all this often seems a touch cagey about how much human involvement was needed, but when the Next Rembrandt was unveiled, the headlines were mostly saying the same kinds of things anyway: An AI thinks it can paint a Rembrandt?! (For what it’s worth, I quite like the results.)
It crops up in The Turing Test because The Turing Test, as the name suggests, is very concerned with AI. The original Turing Test has entered popular culture now: an experiment into AI development in which a computer and a human will hold a conversation over a text channel while an observer reads the transcript and tries to guess which participant is human and which isn’t. As far as I gather, this has rather been put aside these days, since the Turing Test as originally conceived isn’t testing a computer’s ability to think so much as its ability to mimic – or, if you prefer, deceive. All of this gets an airing in the game that I’ve just spent the last few days playing – and they’ve been very pleasant days. This Turing Test is a first-person 3D puzzler built of around 70 room escape scenarios, clipped together and with a bit of narrative threaded in between. It’s clever and challenging and glossy and pretty and it wants to leave you with something to think about. It is pretty successful.