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Computer convinces panel it is human

BBC News BBC News 10/06/2014 BBC

A computer program called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, is said to have passed the Turing test at an event organised by the University of Reading.

The test investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans.

The experiment is based on Alan Turing's question-and-answer game Can Machines Think?

No computer has passed the test before under these conditions, it is reported.

The 65-year-old Turing Test is successfully passed if a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.

On 7 June Eugene convinced 33% of the judges at the Royal Society in London that it was human.

Man or machine? A glimpse at one of the conversations.

Other artificial intelligence (AI) systems also competed, including Cleverbot, Elbot and Ultra Hal.

Judges included actor Robert Llewellyn, who played an intelligent robot in BBC Two's science-fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, and Lord Sharkey, who led the successful campaign for Alan Turing's posthumous pardon, over a conviction for homosexual activity, in 2013.

Eugene was created by Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia and now lives in the United States, and Ukrainian-born Eugene Demchenko, who now lives in Russia.

Transcripts of the conversations are currently unavailable, but may appear in a future academic paper.

The judges and hidden human control groups were kept apart throughout the test.

The event was organised by Reading University's School of Systems Engineering in partnership with RoboLaw, an EU-funded organisation examining the regulation of emerging robotic technologies.

Alan Turing was an English mathematician, wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science.


The event has been labelled as "historic" by the organisers, who claim no computer has passed the test before.

"Some will claim that the Test has already been passed," said Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading and deputy vice-chancellor for research at Coventry University.

"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."

Lord Sharkey, a leading expert in robotic technology and artificial intelligence, said: "It is indeed a great achievement for Eugene. It was very clever ruse to pretend to be a 13-year-old Ukranian boy, which would constrain the conversation. But these competitions are really great to push developments."

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