Skynet Lives! Turing Test Passed For The First Time
Meet Eugene Goostman - a seemingly normal 13 year old boy. He's from Odessa, Ukraine, and doesn't speak English very well. He likes hamburgers and candy, and his father is a gynecologist. He's curious, he makes sarcastic jokes, he swears, and he uses emoticons.
But Eugene isn't a normal 13 year old boy - he's actually a computer program, the first computer program to ever successfully pass the Turing test.
Credit: Princeton AI
The Turing test, invented by Alan Turing, was created to measure whether a machine can successfully imitate a human. It's the holy grail in the realm of Artificial Intelligence, as well as a research tool in the areas of cognitive science and the study of consciousness. Turing predicted that by the year 2000, a robot would be able to fool a third of humans into believing that it was also a human. So in order to pass the test, a computer program needs to dupe at least 30% of human judges into thinking that it is a real human in the span of a five minute text-based chat. (For a full "interview" with Eugene, click here.) Today, Eugene was the first artificial intelligence to pass the test, only fourteen years after Turing's estimation.
Credit: Orion Pictures
But don't start preparing for a Skynet-style robot apocalypse just yet. This panel of judges included an actor from Red Dwarf and a member of the House of Lords - both of whom are incredibly accomplished, but are not specifically trained in the field of A.I. On top of that, Eugene is representative of the lowest possible form of recognizably human conversation - a teenage boy speaking a non-native language. So, Eugene did pass, but under incredibly low standards.
Still, this victory is a significant breakthrough, and critics are already raising red flags about its implications. While we don't have to consider the consequences of a robot that is actually sentient quite yet, there may be increased opportunities for cyber theft as a result of this technology.
"Having a computer that can trick a human into thinking that someone, or even something, is a person we trust is a wake-up call to cyber crime," said Professor Ken Warwick. "The Turing Test is a vital tool for combating that threat. It is important to understand more fully how online, real-time communication of this type can influence an individual human in such a way that they are fooled into believing something is true ... when in fact it is not."