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Chatbot passes Turing Test? Some aren't so sure

Critics raise questions about news that a conversation bot passed an AI test

By Grant Gross
June 9, 2014 04:19 PM ET

IDG News Service - A computer-powered chatbot that may have passed the Turing Test for artificial intelligence may not be all it's cracked up to be.

The conversation program, dubbed Eugene Goostman, poses as a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy and supposedly tricked a third of the human testers into believing the software was the adolescent during an event Saturday at the Royal Society in London. The announcement came from Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, an AI and cybernetics promoter with a history of making bold statements about the intelligence of machines.

In 2000, Warwick called himself the first cyborg after implanting a computer chip in his arm. On Monday, tech blog TechDirt recounted Warwick's history with the press and questioned the latest Turing Test results.

Warwick, in an email, defended the tests run on Goostman. TechDirt's critique of the test "picked certain bits of the press release and 'changed' some of the words to suit," he said.

The AI tests last Friday and Saturday were open to the public and "under constant independent scrutiny," from a team led by AI professor John Barnden of the University of Birmingham, Warwick said. The Goostman chat program achieved the 30% pass mark as set by Turing Test creator, the late Alan Turing, he noted.

"It is quite a tough challenge and that is why the Turing test has taken so long to pass," Warwick said. "There is no doubt on Turing's meaning."

While transcripts of the weekend's tests aren't immediately available, academic papers based on the recent tests will likely include conversations between Goostman and the human testers, Warwick said.

Several AI experts didn't return messages seeking comment on the tests, but Goostman's responses, on an online version of the program, were unconvincing in tests run by Time.com and by IDG News Service. It's not clear if the version tested here is the same one as was tested in London.

This is the text of a chat between IDG News Service and the Goostman chatbot:

IDG: Hello. How are you today?

Goostman: I'm in a great mood today.

IDG: Why are you in a great mood?

Goostman: Nice to hear that! Do you like the weather?

IDG: No. It's too hot. Do you like the weather?

Goostman: In my native town people says that meteorologists are like sappers: they make a mistake only once, but the difference is that sappers do that once in a lifetime and meteorologists -- daily. Do you like weather today?

IDG: I think I already answered that.

Goostman: Is this all you can come up with? I know you are supposed to trick me.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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