Yesterday, at a University of Reading demonstration in London, a computer convinced human judges that it was actually a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy. By convincing one-third of the judging panel of its humanity, it became the first computer ever to pass the famous Turing Test. `
The Turing Test is a controversial test invented by Alan Turing in 1950. Turing believed that if thirty percent of humans could not distinguish a human from a machine in conversation, that would mean the machine is capable of “thinking.” Until yesterday, a machine was never capable of convincing enough humans to be deemed artificially intelligent, though others have tried.
The University of Reading test was a five-minute keyboard conversation with someone or something on the other side. The questions are a free-for-all — no script is applied and there are no topics assigned in advance. It’s meant to simulate a conversation with a complete stranger. The judges then determine if they believe they have been speaking to a machine or a human. As long as one-third of judges believe its human, the machine passes the test.
In 2012, a program nearly passed with 29 percent of judges convinced, but just barely missed the cut. Saturday’s computer, which acted as a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman, made the cut.