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'13 year old' AI fools judges, passes Turing test

'Eugene' is a turning point for artificial intelligence
Mon Jun 09 2014, 12:01

Alan Turing was born in 1912 and herlded as the father of modern computingEUGENE GOOSTMAN, a 13 year old Ukrainian boy, has become the first computer to beat the Turing Test.

The supposedly '13 year old boy' is an artificial intelligence (AI) that fooled judges to pass the Turing Test, which is designed to detect "sentient" machines.

Alan Turing, the World War II codebreaker who designed the test in 1950 argued that, after Decartes argument that "I think therefore I am", that a computer that was indistinguishable from a human would be "thinking".

Eugene whose supposed age was used to excuse any gaps in 'his' knowledge as 'he' interacted with examiners, managed to convince 33 percent of the judges that he was real - exceeding the 30 percent passing mark.

Previous attempts to be beat the Turing Test have exceeded the passing threshold by a higher margin, but the computers have been "primed" on certain subjects to aid their conversations.

Eugene, created by Russian American Vladimir Veselov and Ukranian Eugene Demchenkois, is the first virtual human to receive no additional background information.

The timing of this watershed moment couldn't be more appropriate, falling as it did at an event held on the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing's death at the Royal Society in London.

But with this new age of sentience comes a new danger. Being able to fool a human being into believing that a machine is not a machine but rather another person could have serious implications.

On one hand, combining the power of a "personality" like this with, for example Microsoft's Cortana and IBM's Watson, could make a science fiction computer such as HAL9000 a reality.

But on the other, cybercrime could become rife. If you believe you are giving information to a human that is in fact a spambot computer, it might steal your identity, and use it to repeat the scam on someone else, hoovering up identities as it goes - and that sounds like something straight out of a movie. µ


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