On Saturday, a chat bot named Eugene Goostman was recognised as the first computer to officially pass the Turing Test.
Some, however, have expressed scepticism at this claim, especially since other computers have similarly duped humans in the past.
The Turing Test is a trial developed by famous mathematician Alan Turing, who worked on cracking the Enigma code during the second World War.
The test seeks to find whether or not judges would be able to decipher computer responses from human answers.
If the computer is able to make 30% of the judges believe it’s human, it passes the test.
During the University of Reading’s test on Saturday, which took place at the Royal Society in the UK, Eugene Goostman fooled 33% of the judges into thinking he was a 13-year-old boy from the Ukraine.
The University of Reading claims that this is the first time a computer has ever truly passes the Turing Test, but some other computer-generated responses have tricked humans just as well in the past.
In 2011, a chatbot named Cleverbot convinced 59% of the judges that it was human using a similar tactic. During the event, 30 volunteers engaged in a four minute conversation with an unknown entity, New Scientist reports.
Half of the participants spoke with Cleverbot while the other half chatted with real humans. These conversations were shown on large TV screens for the audience to see. Both the volunteers and audience members voted, with 1,334 votes cast.
Eugene, by comparison, only convinced 33% of 30 judges that it was human after a series of five-minute conversations.
Accomplished computer scientists and tech industry investors have come forward to express their scepticism about the results.
For instance, Chris Dixon, co-founder of Hunch.com and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, posted a string of tweets questioning how the competition was judged.
Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist and faculty member at MIT, challenged Eugene in conversation to illustrate how robotic his responses seem. Here are some of the funniest snippets from Eugene and Aaronson’s conversation:
Professor Murray Shanahan of the Department of Computing at Imperial College London told Buzzfeed that he doesn’t believe Eugene truly passed the Turing Test, saying the following:
Of course the Turing Test hasn’t been passed. I think it’s a great shame that it’s been reported that way, because it reduces the worth of serious AI research. We are still a very long way from achieving human-level AI, and it trivialises Turing’s thought experiment (which is fraught with problems anyway) to suggest otherwise.
Shanahan also told Buzzfeed that the Turing Test is a poor means of testing artificial intelligence since it puts too much emphasis on language. Human intelligence also involves the way we interact with the physical world, which is something the Turing Test doesn’t take into account when it comes to measuring artificial intelligence.