It only took about 65 years, but a computer posing as a 13-year-old boy became the first to pass the Turing Test, which was designed to test a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior that's equal to or indistinguishable from that of a real human. A supercomputer called Eugene Goostman accomplished the feat during Turing Test 2014 held at the Royal Society in London over the weekend.
A development team led by a Russian computer engineer Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia and now lives in the U.S., and Ukrainian born Eugene Demchenko, who now lives in Russia, developed Eugene Goostman in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Eugene was one of five supercomputers competing for the Turing Test 2014 prize.
The test is a question and answer game, "Can Machines Think?" This particular event took place on the 60th anniversary of Turing's death. To pass the test, a computer must be mistaken for a human by more than 30 percent of the time during a series of five minute keyboard conversations -- Eugene was able to convince 33 percent of the human judges that it too was human.
Eugene's accomplishment isn't without a bit of controversy.
"Some will claim that the Test has already been passed. The words Turing Test have been applied to similar competitions around the world. However this event involved the most simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently verified and, crucially, the conversations were unrestricted," explains Professor Kevin Warwick, a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at Coventry University. "A true Turing Test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations. We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing's Test was passed for the first time on Saturday."
Posing as a 13-year-old may have helped Eugene pass the test. Due to his character's believed age, Eugene wouldn't necessarily need to get a question correct, but answer in a way that's believable for a boy his age.