Computer program convinces judges it’s human
Judges in England were tricked into thinking the computer program they were talking to was a human on Saturday – making it the first to pass the 65-year-old Turing test.
‘Eugene Goostman’ isn’t a 13-year-old boy, but 33% of people who took part in five-minute keyboard conversations with the Royal Society’s computer program in London thought he was, according to The University of Readingwho organized the test.
The Turing test is based on the question of Alan Turing, “the father of modern computing”, “Can machines think?” »
If a computer is mistaken for a human by more than 30% of the judges, it passes the test, but no computer has accomplished the feat – so far.
“We didn’t expect to break the 30% barrier, let alone the 33,” project director John Denning told NBC News. “We’ve come close before, but we didn’t really expect that to happen.”
“Eugene” was created in St. Petersburg, Russia, by software development engineer Vladimir Veselov and software engineer Eugene Demchenko, according to the University of Reading. The computer program was tested with four others at Saturday night’s event, but was the only one to fully imitate a person.
“Our whole team is very excited about this result,” Veselov said. “Going forward, we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue to work on improving what we call ‘conversational logic’.”
Denning said part of the success of “Eugene” was that although the test was conducted in English, the program’s conversational style was written by non-native English speakers, who were forced to analyze the language and recognize its nuances.
Machines that can become as smart – or smarter – than humans raise concerns about dire economic consequences and diabolical robotic plotlines suitable for sci-fi movies.
But Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading, says a computer that can think and act like a person will be an asset in the fight against cybercrime. “Real-time, online communication of this type can influence an individual in such a way that they are tricked into believing something is true… when in fact it is not,” said he declared.
Warwick pointed out that this weekend’s test is also controversial as some claim it has already been passed, but the test did not pre-specify conversation topics and was independently verified. “We are therefore proud to report that Alan Turing’s test was passed for the first time on Saturday,” Warwick said.
“The event is particularly poignant as it took place on the 60th anniversary of Turing’s death, nearly six months after he received a posthumous royal pardon,” the university statement read.
Turing helped crack Germany’s Enigma code during World War II and came up with the concept of a “universal machine” that could act and think like a human.
He designed an electromechanical device known as the “bomb”, which allowed a team named “Ultra” to decode intercepted German messages. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill credited “Ultra” with winning the war.
Turing however was not praised. Instead, he was banned from working with the British government and charged with “gross indecency” as a criminal because he was gay.
The pioneer committed suicide with a poisoned apple at 41, tormented by the law and the impossibility of exemption.
Queen Elizabeth II granted a “pardon of grace” to Turing in 2013, but he never lived to see anything close to the seemingly unrealistic machine he envisioned decades before it was created.
“It is difficult to conceive that [Turing] could have imagined what today’s computers and the network that connects them would look like,” Professor Warwick said.