A computer program named Eugene Goostman which imitates a Ukrainian teenager with a quirky sense of humour and a pet guinea pig has won an artificial intelligence competition at the
The program convinced 10 out of 30 judges at the nation's most prestigious scientific institution that it was a real person in a series of online chats lasting five minutes each. The event's organisers, from
Regardless of the program's success, the performance was an improvement on Eugene's attempt to win an AI competition in 2012 when it expressed its love of Eminem and hatred for
Proposed by Alan Turing, the wartime codebreaker and computing pioneer, the Turing test challenges computer scientists to create a program that is indistinguishable from a person in its conversational ability. The goal sidesteps more obscure questions about the nature of the mind, and focuses attention on how it behaves.
The program analyses questions it receives, and searches a "knowledge base" for material before compiling a response. Some of the time it will ask a clarifying question, or draw on a stock response from memory. During the tests each judge sat down at a pair of computers and typed in questions. One computer was linked to another with a person at the keyboard, while the other was running a program that provided replies.
The judges included
Declaring that Eugene had passed the Turing test, Prof
But one judge, Prof
In 1950 Turing predicted that in about 50 years' time computer conversations could pass as human around 30% of the time. But he said that a statistical survey like a Gallup poll to decide if a machine could think was absurd.
"Turing's insight was that the way to explain how the mind works is to design a system that can do whatever the mind can do," Harnad said. "That includes all of our verbal capacity, as well as the sensorimotor, or robotic, capacity in which it is grounded. Not for five minutes, but for a lifetime."
News of Eugene's success crashed the server it was hosted on over the weekend. Asked if it marked the rise of the machines that would spell the end of humanity, Denning said: "We have been looking at logs of people chatting with Eugene. What people say does not bode well for the future of humanity. It's pretty startling what people will say to robots. People say paedophilic things, things about Eugene's lineage."
AI has yet to behave like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey Photo:
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