A Computer Program Has Passed the Turing Test For the First Time

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This is big. A computer program has successfully managed to fool a bunch of researchers into thinking that it was a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman. In doing so, it has become the first in the world to have successfully passed the Turing Test.


The test is named after computer pioneer Alan Turing. To pass it, a computer program needs to dupe 30 percent of human judges in five-minute, text-based chats, a feat that until now had never been accomplished.

"Eugene" was created by a team based in Russia, and passed the test organized by the University of Reading just barely, by duping one in three judges. It should also be noted that a chatbot successfully pretending to be a 13-year-old boy for whom English is a second language ain't exactly Hal 9000. There's no artificial intelligence at work here; it's more clever gamesmanship by Eugene's creators.

It's still an obviously exciting breakthrough, though, one that has critics already raising red flags about its implications. "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 Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading and deputy vice-chancellor for research at Coventry University told the Independent.

Are there serious concerns about what this means for online security in the future? Sure. But today they'll have to take a back seat to the understanding that we've entered a new era of computing. One that's alive with possibilities, or at least convincingly enough so. [The Independent]



Reader's guide for Art History majors: Alan Turning , OBE, FRS (1912-1954) was a British mathematician best know for his WW-II code-breaking work. He was also a computer pioneer, laying the foundations for what would become Computer Science. He and some of his colleagues argued about whether a computer could mimic a human to the extent that an observer couldn't tell the difference. Obviously the question is whether perfect mimicry constitutes intelligence (see The Chinese Room for more discussion on this point). Turing's point of view was that if you can't tell the difference it doesn't matter. This has far-reaching implications for cyber-security and telemarketing.