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July 3, 1967


JAMA. 1967;201(1):55. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130010081019

Has the devil been cheated in all his pacts for the human soul? Was he, in fact, buying a pig in a poke—a nonexistent entity—all these centuries past? The question as old as man acquires topical relevance when we read in a recent communication by Sir Francis Crick' that it will be difficult to tell whether one is talking to a computer or to a real person when the computer will have been educated to carry on an intelligent conversation or even say that it was conscious and describe what it meant by this. "There are many people," states Sir Francis, "who believe that it will never be possible to simulate a human being in this way, but those who work on computers tend to think that we shall see this development in our lifetime." Realizing that the association with sophisticated machines is going to be quite upsetting, he then