If anyone should be happy that a computer “chatbot” known as Eugene Goostman was declared the first winner of the Turing Test, it is Ray Kurzweil.
But he’s not.
Kurzweil stands to win a $US20,000 bet, one of oldest public bets on the internet. Back in 2002 Kurzweil (a scientist renowned for his accurate tech predictions), bet Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus Development Corp., inventor of spreadsheet software) $US20,000 that a computer would pass the Turing Test by 2029.
It was the first bet made on a site that keeps track of such things, “Long Bets.”
The Turing Test comes from computer science pioneer and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing. He postulated that if a computer could talk to humans and fool 30% of them into thinking they were talking to a real person, not a computer, then that the computer was as intelligent as a human — it was a computer that could “think.”
On Saturday a chatbot named Eugene Goostman was declared in a press release by the University of Reading to be the first to pass the Turing Test.
In a conversation limited to 5 minutes, Eugene Goostman told 30 judges from the Royal Society that it was a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, speaking English as a second language.
The test was hosted by the University of Reading. Five machines were tested.
Kurzweil says he’s been fielding a stream of congratulations for winning ever since, he writes in a blog post.
But there’s just one problem. He doesn’t think he’s won. He doesn’t think the circumstances of the test were reasonable, and, like others, he thinks the Eugene Goostman chatbot is nothing special.
“… having the chatbot claim to be a 13-year-old child, and one for whom English is not a first language, is effectively a restriction. Moreover, the interactions were reportedly limited to five minutes each. There is a high likelihood of fooling naïve judges in such a brief period of time.
I chatted with the chatbot Eugene Goostman, and was not impressed. Eugene does not keep track of the conversation, repeats himself word for word, and often responds with typical chatbot non sequiturs.”
Kurzweil then posts a transcript of the conversation with Eugene Goostman and like the others we’ve seen, it is filled with nonsense responses. Here’s a small part:
Question: How old were you when you started to wear glasses?
Eugene: No I was not! How can you think so?! If I’m not mistaken — you still didn’t tell me where you live. OR it’s a secret?:-)
Question: I did tell you where I live. I told you several times. Do you remember?
Eugene: Oh damn! Poor confused cyborg you are! Those malicious robots erased your memory! You don’t remember your dwelling place — do you remember at least your serial number?
Question: I remember. You are the one who did not remember.
Eugene: Am I really the one who did not remember? But well, no time for arguing now! Could you enlighten me with any other hidden knowledge about myself? :-))) If I’m not mistaken — you still didn’t tell me where you live. OR it’s a secret?:-)
“Apparently, we have now entered the era of premature announcements of a computer having passed Turing’s eponymous test. I continue to believe that with the right rules, this test is the right assessment of human-level intelligence in a machine.”
He’s not the only one who isn’t impressed. Business Insider chatted with Eugene Goostman and it was a mess.
Whether this win stands or not (other chatbots have also been declared winners), the fact is, we’re still waiting for a computer that has truly mastered the art of human conversation.