Computer Fools Panel Into Thinking It's 13-Year-Old Boy

Monday, 09 Jun 2014 01:41 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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A computer was able to convince a group of judges that it was actually a human being.

According to a report on The Verge, a team of computer engineers led by Russian Vladimir Veselov and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko was able to convince a panel that they were encountering a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman. The "boy" told them he likes hamburgers and candy and that his father is a gynecologist, and at least 30 percent of the judges thought they were speaking to a human being.

That's what it took to pass the Turing Test, the site says. The test was developed by a scientist named Alan Turing in 1950 to determine whether machines can be created to have artificial intelligence.

The University of Reading held the competition in London on Saturday.

"This event involved the most simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently verified and, crucially, the conversations were unrestricted," The Verge quotes Professor Kevin Warwick as saying.

One other computer nearly had testers stumped in 2012, but then only 29 percent of those judges decided that it was a human.

The Verge is quick to point out that the public shouldn't start believing this is HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"The Turing Test doesn't hinge on whether the computer's responses are correct or not," the site explains. "It only involves the 'humanness' of its answers. The test is carried out over a text chat."

Judges may have thought it was conceivable that a real 13-year-old boy might not know the answers to a lot of questions they asked.

Terrence McCoy from The Washington Post adds: "What I most like [about] this is that the computer program pretended to be Eugene, from Ukraine. This of course leads to the obvious question: How much do you really know about who I am?"

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