For the first time computers may be able to exhibit signs of human intelligence after a 'super computer' successfully passed the 'Turing test'. The computer program, one of five demonstrated at an event hosted by the Royal Society in London, managed to trick more than a third of an assessment panel into thinking they were communicating with a 13-year-old Ukranian boy called 'Eugene Goostman'.
The test was first proposed by computer pioneer Alan Turing in his 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." Turing's work is highly controversial but has become an important element of the artificial intelligence concept.
Speaking in The Telegraph, event organiser Professor Kevin Warwick said: "In the field of artificial intelligence there is no more iconic and controversial milestone than the Turing Test, when a computer convinces a sufficient number of interrogators into believing that it is not a machine but rather is a human...this milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting."
However, the results of this weeks 'Turning Test' have not been received positively in all sectors of the technology community. Many researchers and scientists have been critical of the test’s parameters, some suggesting that Turing never proposed how the test could be passed.
Writing in The Guardian, Professor Robert Epstein of The American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology said: "Turing merely conjectured that by 2000 a computer program would be able to fool an "average interrogator" into thinking it was a person 30% of the time in a five-minute conversation. He didn't propose that as a test of anything; he was merely speculating."
Gary Marcus, Professor of cognitive science at New York University was also critical, calling the result "an illusion" in The New Yorker. "It’s easy to see how an untrained judge might mistake wit for reality," says Marcus."But once you have an understanding of how this sort of system works, the constant misdirection and deflection becomes obvious, even irritating."
The computer program that passed the test was developed by a team led by Russian computer scientist and Amazon Software development engineer Vladimir Veselov.