Today, the machines became a little smarter, as a computer named Elbot managed to achieve a 25% success rate when convincing a human being that they were talking to another human. The experiment is called the Turing Test, after mathematician Alan Turing, and Sunday's saw six Artificial Conversational Entities (ACEs) trying to ace the exam. Word is there was one human dunce in the mix, as all six computers managed to fool at least one interrogator into thinking they were speaking to another person, but none of the machines could officially pass Turing's strict standards.
The Turing Test states that to be considered "sentient," an artificial intelligence must achieve a 30% success rate. That means Elbot's accomplishment, while noteworthy, does not an AI make.
Organiser Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading's School of Systems Engineering was excited anyway, and readily compared today's events to the time in the 1997 when IBM's Big Blue defeated chess master Gary Kasparov. "This has been a very exciting day with two of the machines getting very close to passing the Turing Test for the first time," he said.
Perhaps even more impressive was just how believable the computers were, even if the human speaking with them knew they were speaking with a machine.
"Today's results actually show a more complex story than a straight pass or fail by one machine. Where the machines were identified correctly by the human interrogators as machines, the conversational abilities of each machine was scored at 80 and 90%. This demonstrates how close machines are getting to reaching the milestone of communicating with us in a way in which we are comfortable. That eventual day will herald a new phase in our relationship with machines, bringing closer the time in which robots start to play an active role in our daily lives."
Note to Warnick: Read anything on robots written by Isaac Asimov, then get back to me. [Telegraph]