"The world is really so surreal these days that it's necessary for us to blunt it somehow in order to stay sane. The artist functions to short-circuit the buffering mechanism, so that people can occasionally perceive the weirdness of things as they are."
The Voight-Kampff test attempts to distinguish androids from human beings by autonomic responses to questions that should elicit an empathic response. Because it seeks to gather and measure biological information for security purposes, the empathy testing procedure is a kind of biometric identification system.
(From Harrison Ford Gives The Test)
The history of tests to distinguish human beings from machines is short, but interesting. Alan Turing devised what is commonly known as the Turing Test; the crux of the test is language usage.
It is intriguing to note that Dick has vacated the field from the standpoint of trying to defend human intelligence versus machine intelligence; he relies on emotional response. Biometric data are also used to authenticate the person being tested. At the time the novel was written, computers were able to play chess, but poorly. (Turing himself wrote the first chess program in 1950, using a limited size board and fewer pieces. Claude Shannon published the first article on the subject, outlining how a computer would evaluate and choose positions. Chess programs reached Grand Master status by 1988.)
Voight-Kampff Empathy Test-related
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