Turing Test falls: computer passes for 13-year-old boy

Jun 9, 2014

Computer called Eugene Goostman passes Turing Test by making judges think it's a teenager

A computer program has fooled researchers into thinking it is a 13-year-old boy, thereby becoming the first machine to pass the Turing Test.

The test of artificial intelligence, devised in 1950 by pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, requires that a computer should be indistinguishable from a human respondent during a text-based conversation.

Five computers were tested with a series of five-minute conversations at an event organised by Reading University and held on Saturday at the Royal Society. To pass, a computer had to persuade at least 30 per cent of judges that it was human.

The winning machine, called Eugene Goostman, duped 33 per cent of judges into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy.

Eugene's triumph has been hailed as a "historic milestone" in computing history, despite previous claims that the Turing test had been passed. In those competitions, conversation had been limited to set topics or questions agreed in advance.

Eugene was built by two Russians, Vladimir Veselov and Eugene Demchenko. "It's a remarkable achievement for us and we hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots," Veselov told the Daily Telegraph.

However, the computer's success also provoked concern among security analysts.

"Having a computer that can trick a human into thinking that someone, or even something, is a person we trust is a wake-up call to cybercrime," Professor Kevin Warwick, from the University of Reading, says in The Independent.

"The Turing Test is a vital tool for combating that threat. It is important to understand more fully how online, real-time communication of this type can influence an individual human in such a way that they are fooled into believing something is true."

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