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Technically speaking, could we code in natural language once we pass the Turing test? Would passing the Turing test at least simplify programming languages' syntax?

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  • $\begingroup$ Looking for a quantitative answer.. $\endgroup$ Dec 2 '17 at 19:47
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No. Humans pass the Turing Test but cannot express themselves with enough precision and little enough ambiguity to code well in English (natural language). No machine will improve on that until it can greatly improve on human-level clarity in expressing their purpose when programming.

Is it possible to program in natural language? Yes, I think so. But it would require superhuman intelligence to anticipate all the possible confusions that might arise when a word is not sufficiently precise or accurate to represent an software activity or mechanism. This probably would require adopting a rigorous convention in choosing a subset of unambiguous words to form a "natural" programming language (a kind of creole). Coding consistently using only those words would require discipline that exceeds the ability of most humans, methinks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Follow up: Given its precise syntactic grammar, is Sanskrit the best candidate for natural language coding\ passing the Turing test? If not, which language is? $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '17 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer, but I think the the final sentence needs some clarification. "Most humans" may be correct, but is ambiguous and hard to substantiate. It's probably a safe assumption that programmers, technicians, engineers, scientists, etc., would be able to master this "nlp programming language". $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Nov 30 '17 at 19:37
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I think this is a very interesting question. It's highly hypothetical, so my simple answer will also, necessarily, be hypothetical.

  • If the AI can pass the Turing Test, it can be assumed it has a command of the human language(s) used in that process

Self-awareness in this context would seem to be irrelevant, as would the question of whether the AI actually "understands" the content, or is merely imitating natural language.

  • If the AI has a command of the human language(s), it would be a reasonable assumption that it could translate natural language instructions into machine code

It might be best to think of the problem in the simplest terms. If you asked this hypothetical AI to "draw a red square on the screen", it's hard to see that task as impossible, or even difficult.

Obviously, as the instructions became more complicated, there would be a greater margin for error, and it would be useful to integrate precise, formal terms related to functions, as Randy points out.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Bobs it depends on what the AI is being asked to do. It might not necessarily have to code in machine language proper, for instance Python or JS or any computer code would work. But unless it's using a computer language based on natural language, it would still have to code in code. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Dec 13 '17 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobs I suppose you could have the low-level function be autonomic, even where they had the intelligence to translate natural language into machine code, but classical computing will always be based on 1's and 0's, and even quantum computing on qbits, so there's no way to get around the the fact that any instructions are ultimately reduced to a sting, mostly likely in base-2. On top of that, natural language is inefficient for coding, but even if it were used, it's getting translated into machine language and a binary string. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Dec 13 '17 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobs haha. that would be awesome if someone could find a way to harness it! Wouldn't hold my breath though $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Dec 18 '17 at 21:32

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