A challenge in artificial intelligence set by Alan Turing has been achieved at an event organised by Reading University.
The 65 year-old Turing Test was passed for the first time by supercomputer Eugene Goostman during Turing Test 2014 held at the Royal Society in London on Saturday June 7, 2014.
‘Eugene’, a computer programme that simulates a 13 year old boy, was developed in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The development team includes Eugene’s creator Vladimir Veselov, and Eugene Demchenko.
The Turing Test is based on 20th century mathematician and code-breaker Turing’s 1950 question and answer game, ‘Can Machines Think?’ The experiment investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans.
If a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30 per cent of the time during a series of five minute keyboard conversations it passes the test. Up until now no computer has achieved this. Eugene managed to convince 33 per cent of the human judges that it was human.
This event was organised by the University’s School of Systems Engineering in partnership with RoboLaw, an EU-funded organisation examining the regulation of emerging robotic technologies.
In a statement, Prof Kevin Warwick, a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at Coventry University, said: ‘In the field of Artificial Intelligence there is no more iconic and controversial milestone than the Turing Test, when a computer convinces a sufficient number of interrogators into believing that it is not a machine but rather is a human.
‘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.
‘Of course the Test has implications for society today. 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. The Turing Test is a vital tool for combatting 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…when in fact it is not.’
Eugene was one of five supercomputers competing for the Turing Test 2014 Prize.
‘Eugene was ‘born’ in 2001,’ said Veselov. ‘Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything. We spent a lot of time developing a character with a believable personality. This year we improved the ‘dialog controller’ which makes the conversation far more human-like when compared to programs that just answer questions. Going forward we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue working on improving what we refer to as ‘conversation logic’.’