Artificial intelligence might not be a thing yet, but according to the results of a recent Turing test, it might very well be on its way toward becoming reality. A Russian team has put together a computer program named Eugene Goostman that may (or may not) be the first program to pass a Turing test.
Basically, the program might have succeeded in fooling a significant portion of the test’s participants into thinking that it was a real person. The Turing test is named for Alan Turing, a British codebreaker, mathematician, and computer scientist, and is credited for having designed the circuitry of the earliest computers and cracking the German Enigma code during World War II. The test is designed to measure the intelligence of computers.
I’m A Real Boy!
So, why is this a big deal? Because over 30 percent – 33, in fact – of the test subjects thought that Eugene Goostman was human. The event was organized and hosted by the University of Reading. Professor Ken Warwick, says:
Some will claim that the Test has already been passed. The words Turing Test have been applied to similar competitions around the world. However this event involved the most simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently verified and, crucially, the conversations were unrestricted. A true Turing Test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations. We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing’s Test was passed for the first time on Saturday.
You might notice that we don’t say that Eugene was the first to pass the Turing test, and that’s because there is some controversy over whether he was the first to actually pass it or not. Some might recall IBM’s “know-it-all” Watson, as it appeared on Jeopardy in February 2011.
Unlike Watson, Eugene doesn’t pretend to be super-intelligent, but instead focuses on being realistic – which, in this case, means being a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine. Eugene’s creator, Vladimir Veslov, says that his team tried to improve the dialogue controller, which made conversation more realistic. They will continue to improve upon Eugene’s intelligence using what they call “conversation logic.”
No, You’re Not!
Some professionals are discrediting the university’s claims, saying that the program isn’t artificially intelligent at all. In fact, according to Aaron Sloman, it is “essentially stupid and incompetent, no matter how many people it fools for how long.” It seems artificial intelligence still has a long way to go before we can really feel like we’re speaking to computers as human beings. But, as AI progresses, we’ll need to be extra cautious about who we are meeting on the Internet, and whether they are human or machine.
What do you make of this recent development? Let us know in the comments!