Previous: How Do Animals Re-Grow Limbs (And Why Can't We?)
Next: Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone



View count:223,569
Last sync:2019-06-12 16:20
SciShow News parses the latest science news, including whether a computer program really passed a famous artificial intelligence test, and new insights into why and how we're disgusted by the things that gross us out.
Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records:

Or help support us by subscribing to our page on Subbable:
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?

Thanks Tank Tumblr:


  Computer program or jerky kid? (0:11)

Last week at Reading University UK, Eugene Goostman accomplished something very controversial: he passed the Turing Test. At an event hosted by the Royal Society of London, Gootsman, which was actually a computer program that claimed to be a 13 year old Ukrainian boy fooled 10 out of 30 judges into thinking that he was human, after chatting with each one of them one on one for five minutes.

(0:33) In doing so, he passed the famous Turing test, as described by the code-breaking computer genius Alan Turing in 1950. Now a lot of people have jumped on the claim, arguing that Turing had meant for the test to be a lot harder than that.And if you're one of those people, let me quote you chapter-in-verse.

(0:50) In his 1950 paper "Computing machinery and intelligence", Turing proposed a computer program, that could imitate human conversation well enough that, and I quote: "An average interrogator will not have more than 70% chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning." In other words: if it could hold up a conversation well enough for 5 minutes, that 1 in 3 people would think that they were talking to a human being. And like it or not, Goostman did do that. 

(1:16) The program was created by Vladimir Veselov and Eugene Demchenko who have been entering Goostman into various Turing competitions and fine tuning it for years.

(1:22) But Goostman isn't a super intelligent computer or anything, it's just a program that could probably run on your laptop. You can even talk to a version of Goostman online, but don't expect to be blown away by some great leap forward in computer evolution.

(1:36) What has had a lot of people angry is that honestly the program relies pretty heavily on the fact that there are a lot of actual human 13 year old boys who would have a hard time convincing you that they were human. It tells dirty jokes, it hits on women, it ignores your questions and it likes to launch into bizarre, poorly thought out rants about video games and politics whenever it sees an opportunity. 

(1:57) You can try to get it to demonstrate practical logic or abstract thinking by asking it questions like "Can you push a car with a piece of string?", but it will probably just make fun of you for asking stupid questions and then ask you if you have a cute sister.

(2:10) So, was the Turing test passed? Yeah. Does it matter? Not really.

(2:14) It will still be a long time before we're talking to computer programs that really sound like people. At least people other than obnoxious little brothers. 

 The science of disgust (2:22)

Now, do you remember the last time you were watching TV or a movie or tumbling down Tumblr and all of a sudden you see something that really grosses you out?

(2:29) You probably do, because according to a study published this weeks journal of communication, we remember the things that disgust us better than just about anything else.

(2:38) Doctors Bridget Ruben King of the University of Florida and Annie Lang of Indiana University conducted an experiment with a 120 participants in order to measure the effects of getting grossed out.

(2:48) They exposed their participants to a wide variety of kinds of disgusting videos, from severe bodily trauma resulting in death, to a Neonazi's spewing hate speech, to a man going number two on a filthy bathroom floor. By the way: sounds like the least fun experiment to be a part of ever.

(3:08) They tracked the number of different measures of disgusted response including emotional responses, changes in heart rate, fluctuations in skin conductivity and activation of the levator labii. That's the muscle at the top of your lip that makes you go like that.

(3:21) Then there's your "oral rejection system" which is just the scientific way of saying "the thing that makes you gag and wanna puke". We evolved that to keep contaminates out of our body so it makes sense that imagery involving dead people and feces trigger that response. You don't wanna breath in that stuff, you definitely don't want it in you. 

(3:38) And over time we evolved to link that disgusted reaction to sources of social and moral disgust as well, things like racism and child abuse. 

(3:47) What Ruben King and Lang discovered is that while the initial reaction to moral disgust is slower than the reaction to seeing somebody get cut in half, moral disgust increased with repeated exposure. But the core disgusts like the disgusts for bodily trauma an secretion actually became less potent over time. 

(4:04) The researchers say their findings have important implications for media, clinical psychology - even advertising. Because no matter how uninterested you are in what's on TV, you will pay attention when you see something that disgusts you. And you'll remember that thing that you see. 

(4:18) This appears to be an evolved allocation of mental resources to make sure that the next time you see that super gross thing, you're really super far away from it.

 End (4:25)

Thanks for watching SciShow News. If you wanna help us help you keep learning more about the world, just go to and become a contributing member. And don't forget to go to and subscribe.