Alan Turing would have been proud. Or would he have been terrified?
For the first time ever, a computer reportedly has passed the math genius's iconic Turing Test, The Guardian reported. The achievement came at the Turing Test 2014 competition held at The Royal Society in London on Saturday, which was the 60th anniversary of Turing's death.
Turing proposed his test in 1950 as a means of determining whether a machine could think on its own. He argued that if a machine could be mistaken for a human being more than 30 percent of the time during a series of keyboard conversations with actual humans, then it just might be "thinking."
Now, a computer program named Eugene Goostman has met the challenge, convincing more than 33 percent of the judges at this year's competition that 'Eugene' was actually a 13-year-old boy. The program came close to passing the test in a 2012 competition, fooling the judges 29 percent of the time.
"It's a remarkable achievement for us and we hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots," Dr. Vladimir Veselov, one of the researchers who developed Eugene Goostman, said in a written statement. "Going forward we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue working on improving what we refer to as 'conversation logic.'"
Is Eugene really thinking? Actually, the computer program is a sophisticated simulator of human conversation run by scripts, io9.com reported.
In any case, competition organizer Dr. Kevin Warwick, a professor at the University of Reading in the U.K., said that the achievement has serious implications for modern-day society.
"Having a computer that can trick a human into thinking that someone, or even something, is a person we trust is a wake-up call to cybercrime," Warwick said in the statement. "The Turing Test is a vital tool for combatting that threat. It is important to understand more fully how online, real-time communication of this type can influence an individual human in such a way that they are fooled into believing something is true...when in fact it is not."