Gadgets

Talk to the computer that may have passed the Turing Test, a historic artificial intelligence milestone

Update June 10, 2:44 p.m. ET: As Techdirt points out, this is not the first time an organization has claimed to pass the Turing Test. In addition, the results of a single test are not definitive. Chris Dixon, the founder of Hunch, notes: “You can’t run one test with judges you picked and claim you passed the Turing Test.” We have updated the story for clarity.

Since programmers began seriously grappling with the impending reality of intelligent computers in the 1950s, pioneering Inventor Alan Turing said that the first big milestone would come when we cannot distinguish between computers and humans in conversation.

This weekend, a computer program convinced 33 percent of a panel of judges at the University Reading that it was a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, reports The Independent. The researchers have placed the program “Eugene Goostman” online for anyone to play with here.

The Turing Test is a fascinating philosophical concept. How we judge “intelligence” has been a philosophical quandary for centuries. We judge animals to be “intelligent,” for instance — though we do not know whether they possess the same self-aware thinking and feeling that we associate with human consciousness (aka sentience).

If humans are mere biological machines — and no different from an insect or dog in terms of the ability to solve problems — then perhaps if we can interact with computers as equals, it will be enough consider them as “intelligent.” (For a great overview, check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

So, Turing offered up a test and predicted that it would be met near the turn of the century. “I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted,” he wrote.

The winning team, however, gamed the test by constructing a program that could claim to being ignorant.

“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 one of the programmers. “We spent a lot of time developing a character with a believable personality.”


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile app analytics. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.
44 comments
Declan Boothe-Brennan
Declan Boothe-Brennan

The original purpose of the Turing Test was to "test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human"... It was indistinguishable from a human to one out of three judges.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash

Not sure how this is spreading around the net on major tech blogs. This has been done before many times by chat bots. Even years back. I don't think there is any great accomplishment in smart chat bots, at least from an AI perspective. There is no actual underlying AI to them. the real test should be based on AI that learns, adapts and actually performs like a human being. Chat bots that game the system and present themselves as kids with bad english skills does not constitute AI. Its simply an ok to low level chat bot that the programmers found a way to mask its inabilities by lowering the standards of the person testing it, making them predisposed to assuming this "person" on the other end will be ignorant. 

Nick Nutter
Nick Nutter

What's the chatbot's intelligence level? IT'S OVER HAL 9000!!!!

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

This isn't a huge milestone. It fooled one person. There needs to be a larger panel, completely side-stepping the fact that it claims to be a Ukranian boy, but anyone who knows Ukranian would be able to immediately fail it.

Nikolai Kolunov
Nikolai Kolunov

Out of three judges, only one was decieved. So, while that IS impressive it didn't really pass the Turing test...

Geoff Balme
Geoff Balme

There should probably be a stipulation about how many judges are used if the score to beat is 30%. :)

Carlos Valerio
Carlos Valerio

Ask him who his God is. Says some pretty funny stuff lol

Elijah Dirette
Elijah Dirette

It did what it was programmed to do, and had no independent action beyond that. How is that a sentient intelligence?

Mike Fuller
Mike Fuller

A.I. become more intelligent than man then take over come to mind?

Nathan Kirk
Nathan Kirk

"the process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something."

Chris Johnston
Chris Johnston

I worry that the 'passing' of this test is just a testament to the general decline of our own intelligence, by comparison

Ivan Fedorov
Ivan Fedorov

May be trick is that you need to ask this bot on Ukrainian for better understanding :-)

Tim Cummings
Tim Cummings

Definitely need more than 3 judges on this.

Naya Aerodiode
Naya Aerodiode

Most humans don't pass the Turing Test - they just repeat the same pre-programmed lines when certain stimuli are applied.

Richard Sima Jr.
Richard Sima Jr.

A chatbot isn't artificial intelligence. It's a clever search-copy-paste algorithm.

Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn

This isn't as big of a deal as people want to believe.

Russell Sereno
Russell Sereno

You can always tell its a computer and not a human by talking about killing your self and blaming it for your choice. It cant handle the problem and cant respond like a human. BAM! now that test was pointless as you can still see with ease its a bot and not a human.

Robert Palermo
Robert Palermo

Is this like one of those AIM bots I used to talk to when I was younger? Seems the same.

Wyatt Smith
Wyatt Smith

It's not a 'thinking' machine the way Turing described it, the persona was a 13 year old foreign boy, giving a reasonable excuse for its ignorance. Not much of a milestone.

Dallas Literal Johnston
Dallas Literal Johnston

The article clearly says they gamed the test by making the character young, and thus ignorant. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

Happy Well
Happy Well

I can sense self awareness in most living things. I can't think of a way to demonstrate that to people, but it's kind of wonderful about life and afterwards.

Thomas Corbi
Thomas Corbi

Wow. It's as good as a news anchor on Fox.

Tyler Willis
Tyler Willis

Eron - it could be a huge milestone without looking all that impressive. Asymptotic growth looks small and trivial in the early days of an innovation.

Danilo Stern-Sapad
Danilo Stern-Sapad

I feel like the IRC bot I wrote when I was 13 is better than this one...

Eron Garcia
Eron Garcia

It's not a huge milestone. It fooled one out of three judges but never "thought": the original purpose of the Turing Test. Calm down, VB.

Lisa Fong
Lisa Fong

Who were these panel judges? What's their IQ level? What's their education?

John S. Whitford
John S. Whitford

This is BS. Lamest test you could imagine. fool 30% for 5 minutes. Like a politician!

Sergiu Calborean
Sergiu Calborean

The website is down, I guess the server couldn't handle the load.