The reverse Turing test: a challenge for coaches

Alan Turing’s famous test for machine intelligence was whether or not a conversation with the machine was indistinguishable from that with a human. I was introduced to the reverse Turing test by Kiersten Dierhof, one of the most perceptive observers of coaching that I know. It says, basically, that if a human (coach) cannot be distinguished from a machine, they are probably not intelligent.

Of course, this can be taken in many ways, but the underlying message is that, if a human coach is simply following a prescribed process or formula, they can easily be replaced by an Artificial Intelligence. The AI is not really intelligent, which suggests the coach is not using their own intelligence.

The challenge to coaches is therefore: What do I bring to coaching that a smart machine cannot or does not? A starting point is My humanity. We bring ourselves. But the more we rely on process and ritualistic models, the more like the machine we are….

© David Clutterbuck 2023




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