A computer pretending to be ‘Eugene Goostman’, a 13-year old boy fooled 33% of human judge interrogators into thinking it is human.

Eugene is the first ever computer to fool more than 30% of judges, in what is seen as a milestone in artificial intelligence.

The Guardian reports Computer Simulating 13-Year-Old Boy Becomes First to Pass Turing Test

A “super computer” has duped humans into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy to become the first machine to pass the Turing test, experts have said. Five machines were tested at the Royal Society in central London to see if they could fool people into thinking they were humans during text-based conversations.

The test was devised in 1950 by computer science pioneer and second world war codebreaker Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”.

No computer had ever previously passed the Turing test, which requires 30% of human interrogators to be duped during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations, organisers from the University of Reading said.

But “Eugene Goostman”, a computer programme developed to simulate a 13-year-old boy, managed to convince 33% of the judges that it was human, the university said.

The successful machine was created by Russian-born Vladimir Veselov, who lives in the United States, and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko, who lives in Russia.

Veselov said: “It’s a remarkable achievement for us and we hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots.”

Warwick said there had been previous claims that the test was passed in similar competitions around the world. “A true Turing test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations,” he said. “We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing’s test was passed for the first time.”

Warwick said having a computer with such artificial intelligence had “implications for society” and would serve as a “wake-up call to cybercrime”.

During the second world war, his [Turing’s] critical work at Britain’s codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park helped shorten the conflict and save many thousands of lives.

Instead of being hailed a hero, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality. After his conviction in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old Manchester man, he was chemically castrated. Two years later, he died from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide, though there have been suggestions that his death was an accident.

Conversations With Eugene

A separate Guardian article Eugene – In ‘His’ Own Words, lists the actual conversations that fooled some of the judges.

I read through the conversations and they seemed disjointed. But, then again Eugene was supposed to be a 13 year-old kid. The inventor, programmed into the algorithm purposeful misspellings and other artifacts.

Our main idea was that [Eugene] can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything,” said the robot’s creator, Vladimir Veselov. It also makes affectations like misspellings look more plausible than they would coming from an “adult”.

For Additional details, please see How Do the Robots Win?

Fooling a group of adults that a computer was a 13 year-old boy is arguably a lot easier than tricking a panel of humans that a computer was a 30 year-old man. Nonetheless, this was a remarkable achievement.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock