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TMCNet:  'Thinking' Supercomputer Passes Turing Test

[June 08, 2014]

'Thinking' Supercomputer Passes Turing Test

(Sky News (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A supercomputer has fooled people into thinking it is a teenage boy, making it the first machine to pass an iconic test set by the Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing.

Experts say no computer had previously met the artificial intelligence benchmark developed in 1950 by the mathematician, who said if a machine could not be told apart from a human, then it was "thinking".

If a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations it passes the test.

Five machines were put through their paces at the Royal Society in London to see if they could fool people.

And the supercomputer Eugene Goostman, running a programme imitating a 13-year-old boy, managed to convince 33% of the judges it was human, organisers from the University of Reading said.

Among those tasked with separating the human and computer participants was the actor Robert Llewellyn, who played robot Kryten in the sci-fi comedy TV series Red Dwarf.

Professor Kevin Warwick, from the university said: "In the field of artificial intelligence there is no more iconic and controversial milestone than the Turing Test.

"It is fitting that such an important landmark has been reached at the Royal Society in London, the home of British science and the scene of many great advances in human understanding over the centuries. This milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting." The successful machine was created by Russian-born Vladimir Veselov, who lives in the United States, and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko who lives in Russia.


Mr Veselov said: "It's a remarkable achievement for us and we hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots.

"Eugene was 'born' in 2001. 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." Prof Warwick said there had been previous claims that the test was passed in similar competitions around the world.

"A true Turing Test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations," he said.

"We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing's test was passed for the first time." Prof Warwick said having a computer with such artificial intelligence had "implications for society" and would serve as a "wake-up call to cybercrime".

The event on Saturday was poignant as it took place on the 60th anniversary of the death of Mr Turing, who laid the foundations of modern computing.

During the Second World War, his critical work at Britain's code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park helped shorten the conflict and save many thousands of lives.

But Dr Turing was chemically castrated following his conviction in 1952 for "gross indecency" with another man.

He died of cyanide poisoning two years later and an inquest recorded a verdict of suicide, although his mother and others maintained his death was accidental.

Last December, after a long campaign, Mr Turing was given a posthumous Royal Pardon.

(c) Sky News 2014

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