Intelligent Computers Put To The Test

Researchers are planning to conduct an experiment at the University of Reading to see if humans can be fooled into thinking they are talking with another human, when in fact they will be talking with a machine. The experiment is a homage to mathematician, logician and cryptographer Alan Turning, who originally proposed the Turing Test, in which a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which try to appear human; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test.

"Can machines think? That was the question posed by the great mathematician Alan Turing. Half a century later six computers are about to converse with human interrogators in an experiment that will attempt to prove that the answer is yes.

In the 'Turing test' a machine seeks to fool judges into believing that it could be human. The test is performed by conducting a text-based conversation on any subject. If the computer's responses are indistinguishable from those of a human, it has passed the Turing test and can be said to be 'thinking'.

No machine has yet passed the test devised by Turing, who helped to crack German military codes during the Second World War. But at 9am next Sunday, six computer programs - 'artificial conversational entities' - will answer questions posed by human volunteers at the University of Reading in a bid to become the first recognized 'thinking' machine."

If you ask me, these guys are about two decades late. After all, Creative Labs unleashed Dr. Sbaitso on the world with the original Sound Blaster was back in 1992. Dr. Sbaitso could not only converse, he was a doctor for darn sake. Although I hear he wasn't a very good one...