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 'Intelligent' computers put to the test

This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
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Date posted: 07/10/2008

The Loebner prize award is coming round again. The annual attempt for chatbots to pass the turing test will take place at the University of Reading October 12.

Professor Kevin Warwick, a cyberneticist at the university, said: "I would say now that machines are conscious, but in a machine-like way, just as you see a bat or a rat is conscious like a bat or rat, which is different from a human. I think the reason Alan Turing set this game up was that maybe to him consciousness was not that important; it's more the appearance of it, and this test is an important aspect of appearance."

The six computer programs taking part in the test are called Alice, Brother Jerome, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, Jabberwacky and Ultra Hal. Their designers will be competing for an 18-carat gold medal and $100,000 offered by the Loebner Prize in Artificial Intelligence.

The test will be carried out by human "interrogators", each sitting at a computer with a split screen: one half will be operated by an unseen human, the other by a program. The interrogators will then begin separate, simultaneous text-based conversations with both of them on any subjects they choose. After five minutes they will be asked to judge which is which. If they get it wrong, or are not sure, the program will have fooled them. According to Warwick, a program needs only to make 30 per cent or more of the interrogators unsure of its identity to be deemed as having passed the test, based on Turing's own criteria.

Warwick said: "You can be flippant, you can flirt, it can be on anything. I'm sure there will be philosophers who say, 'OK, it's passed the test, but it doesn't understand what it's doing'."

See the full Story via external site: www.guardian.co.uk



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