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Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone, but academics warn of dangerous future

Mon 9 Jun 2014

A lot of reader scepticism around this story in The Independent that Russian scientists have created an artificial intelligence program called Eugene Goostman good enough to have fooled the test’s judges in to thinking they were “talking” to a 13 year old Ukrainian boy.

Computer pioneer Alan Turing devised the eponymous test  in a paper in the 1950s to see if humans could distinguish a computer from a real human. Turing is alleged to have said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”.

One professor, Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading uses the word “milestone” about the test and notes the program could be used for cybercrime. But, more interestingly, the story is met with massive doubt in the comments section from readers who condemn the program as a chatbot, doubt the quality of the judges, whether it actually used the test correctly and the quality of the conversation.

Here’s one typical comment: “Turing’s goal was a test that reasonable people would agree indicates intelligence among those who pass it. No reasonable person thinks that was achieved with this fishing net for gullible fools.”

There is, for example, the question of how high the bar was set by having western adults holding a “conversation” with a 13 year old Ukrainian. Part of the plan, it seems, according the developers. “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,” said Vladimir Veselov, one of the creators of the programme. “We spent a lot of time developing a character with a believable personality.”


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