The Loebner Prize
The Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence is an annual contest, designed to put artificially intelligent chat programs through their paces. It uses the Turing Test for AI, as conceptualised by Alan Turing in the 1950 paper "Computing machinery and intelligence". In the decades since then, the Loebner prize is the first attempt to take the Turing test seriously, as a benchmark for AI.
Hugh Loebner started the Loebner prize itself, in 1990. Loebner agreed with The Cambridge Centre for Behavioural Studies to underwrite a contest on the Turing test. With a grand prize of $100,000 usd and an engraved solid gold medal for any AI who was able to convince a panel of three judges, the Loebner prize has understandably, acted like a rocket to the chat-AI community.
Each year an annual prize of $2000 and a bronze medal is awarded to the most human-like computer entry for that year, keeping a steady flow of applicants.
As of writing, the 2006 Loebner prize has recently passed, and no entry won or came close to the gold medal.
Hugh Gene Loebner
Home Page of The Loebner Prize in Artificial Intelligence
The Turing Test Page
Alan Turing's Original 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"