Is the Turing Test Beatable?

The Turing Test has been around a long time and while many computers have come close to meeting the requirements over the years, none have passed yet. It represents the ultimate test of whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been achieved by a computer. But can the test actually be passed?

Not as Easy as it Seems

The Turing Test was developed by computer scientist Alan Turing back in 1950. In a paper on Computing Machinery and Intelligence he wondered aloud whether or not machines would actually be able to think and if so, what would the requirements of thinking be?

Turing suggested that any computer capable of immitating a human would be said to have Artifical Intelligence and this forms the basis for the Turing Test. So during the annual Turing Test, one computer and two humans take up positions where they cannot see one another. One of the humans is designated the question master while the other human and the computer have to answer whatever questions are asked.

The job of the computer then is to convince the questioner that it is a human and if it does, then it will beat the test and win it's designer the Loebner Prize worth $100,000 in the process. Straight forward enough then, right? Well, not exactly.

A number of computers have come really close over the years to beating the Turing Test. The closest was a chatting computer program called Eugene Goostman created by a Russian programmer that fooled judges 33% of the time that it was in fact human. The program was criticised though for having introduced itself as a 13 year old boy as this may have appeased any doubts judges had over strange answers.

A Hard Fought Test

The Turing Test dictates that a computer needs to fool the questionners more than 50% of the time and this is why it may be impossible to beat the test. Turing himself reckoned that the test would be passed by the time the year 2000 rolled around, but it seems like it might be a while yet before we see a computer that can demonstrate AI.

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