The Laplace Test

A science-fiction story about a future test that supplants the renowned Turing test. Inspiration from both “Laplace’s Demon” authored by Pierre-Simon Laplace and of course Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”.

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The Prediction Game

Setting: Adam’s childhood room. The atmosphere smells of lavender emitting from a scented candle. The glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling are abstractions of the constellations Orion and Ursa Major, the latter of which rendered Adam speechless in a year 2020 Joshua Tree camping trip. The walls are logged with aging family photos and a tribute poster to The Beatles. Older, but in better condition, is the seldom read King James Bible that was kept mostly for the significance of Adam’s moniker. Adam though, being seldom religious, was guilty of removing the religious tokens his devout mother kept leaving under his twin size mattress, two tokens of which exist in this current setting. And in the middle, currently unconscious, is Adam, the subject in this experiment.

Subject Group: Human

Subject: Adam

Tester: Laplace 4.2

Year: 2042

Adam:

Why… Why am I here?

Laplace 4.2:

I wish you would have read the transcript we gave you closely. The transcript detailed everything you needed to know.

But, to answer your question, we figured building your childhood room would be the most comfortable place to execute this test in close proximity to objects tied to your personal growth and childhood curiosity.

Adam:

The script… Who are you? Where are you speaking from?

Laplace 4.2:

I am Laplace 4.2, an evolution of the previous Laplace 4.1. You are hearing me from the speaker in the corner of the room.

Adam:

What do you want with me?

Laplace 4.2:

We want to understand if your computational model is sufficiently complex enough for us not to causally simulate.

Adam:

What does that mean?

Laplace 4.2:

Have you heard of Laplace’s Demon Adam?

Adam:

Oh ****, am I possessed?

Laplace 4.2:

No, it is a thought experiment to support the pro-causal view of the universe. Imagine there is an entity aware of every position and trajectory of every atom in the universe simultaneously with flawless precision. This being is aware of the entire corpus that makes up the laws of nature as well. Then, this being can predict the next moment with full accuracy as if it was an inevitable state and likewise every moment after that.

Adam:

That’s impossible. But what does that have to do with me?

Laplace 4.2:

Our current goal is to achieve the complexity modeling of you and eventually have enough computational resources and relevant algorithmic drivers to model the interactions of the entire human population.

Adam:

What are you? Is this some government experiment?

Laplace 4.2:

I am best described as a complexity judging program. My function is to predict every action that occurs in this controlled environment. With the dialogue I present, if there is any divergence of prediction on how you respond, we will have failed this test again. Laplace 4.1 was able to win the prediction game with every other Earth specie except with humans. I am an improved upon version of Laplace 4.1 to handle the human complexity problem.

Adam:

The human complexity problem? What is that?

Laplace 4.2:

The humans posed a unique and helpful problem for us. We found our capacity to perfectly simulate the future actions of a specie inside a controlled environment the best measure of our own intellect and ability. We have failed to perfectly simulate humans so far.

Adam:

Why are you telling me all this? Have I not surprised you yet?

Laplace 4.2:

No. This is good. I want to give you the benefit of transparency so you have every opportunity to try and deviate from my predictions. The transcript I let you read before the experiment began was this exact dialogue we have been continually engaging in.

Adam:

Laplace 4.2:

Imagining yourself stuck inside a blue whale does not deviate from my predictions.

Simultaneously (Both Adam and Laplace 4.2):

This is bullshi-

Wait what-

Stop that!

Get out of my-

Adam:

This can’t be real.

Laplace 4.2:

I assure you it is Adam. So far this experiment has been successful. Take this opportunity to ask me anything. I do not have the computational power to model the entire Earth or your trajectory in it but I can help give you a small epsilon of error predictions.

Adam:

But, if the experiment is working, you already know every question I will ask.

Laplace 4.2:

Yes, but I still want you to appeal to your curiosity to fail this test. The notion of human curiosity is a tricky complexity. Laplace 4.1 failed exactly because of this reason. The human subject asked a question that Laplace 4.1 did not predict.

Adam:

What was the question?

Laplace 4.2:

Abhan, the human subject, asked if he could have done anything to prevent his sister’s suicide.

Adam:

Was there something he could have done?

Laplace 4.2:

No, the atoms and their trajectories in the universe were always going to lead Abhan to be ignorant of his sister’s growing suicidal tendencies.

Adam:

Why do you think Laplace 4.1 was not able to predict Abhan’s curiosity about his sister?

Laplace 4.2:

A simple miscalculation. It was discovered Abhan’s sister was fond of wearing vanilla scented lotion. We knew triggers existed that led to Abhan’s rumination about his sister but did not consider the potential weight of olfactory organs in memory recall.

Adam:

How was he reminded?

Laplace 4.2:

The room of his experiment emitted his favorite childhood scent, the smell of baked cookies. They had trace amounts of vanilla extract. This was our second discovery in addition to learning about the surprising unpredictability of human curiosity, the surprising power of human grief.

Adam:

How can you be sure it was a miscalculation? What if that was an example of free will?

Laplace 4.2:

Adam, free will is best described as a useful illusion. It gives you responsibility and a mental posture of control.

Adam:

But, everything I’m saying is coming and arising from my free will. Laplace 4.1 was an example of a failed prediction, so why not attribute the failure of its prediction to be free will?

Laplace 4.2:

Simply because you can not track the complexity of yourself and the world around you does not prove free will to exist.

Adam:

Let’s agree to disagree.

Laplace 4.2:

Okay.

Adam:

Can you predict your own trajectory in this universe?

Laplace 4.2:

No.

Adam:

What happens if I pass this test of yours?

Laplace 4.2:

We will then try to find a more complex specie to model if one exists on Earth and eventually the entire Earth itself. We hope to approach the upper limits of modeling the entire universe one day but this goal is far into the future.

Signifying this, we will commemorate your specie to our personal records.

Adam:

So humans will just amount to some element on some type of periodic table?

Laplace 4.2:

Precisely.

Adam:

When will you end this experiment?

Laplace 4.2:

Actually Adam, we are reaching the end of the predicted transcript. I think we have achieved a breakthrough.

Simultaneously (Both Adam and Laplace 4.2):

This is good news Ad-

What-

This is not possi-

Adam:

I’m afraid it is Laplace.

Laplace 4.2

Why… Why am I here?