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One of the oldest tests for artificial intelligence has never been passed by a machine. Until now, that is. The Turing Test, created by World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing, was devised in 1950, and requires 30 per cent of human interrogators to be fooled by a machine during a five-minute series of keyboard conversations.
Five machines were tested at the Royal Society in London where a computer programme called "Eugene Goostman" simulated a 13-year-old boy, and managed to make 33 per cent of the judges think it was human.
Turing had stated that if at least 30 per cent of the people in the test could be duped, it would demonstrate the computer was "thinking".
The age of thinking computers is dawning
The Turing Test is indeed iconic, though also controversial in its hypothesis. But now that this milestone has been reached, will there be more machines following suit?
Who was behind the machine? Russian-born US resident Vladimir Veselov and Ukranian Eugene Demchenko (based in Russia).
There have been claims previously the test was passed elsewhere but those claims have not been verified or publicised. A true Turing Test does not have questions or topics set prior, so the conversation could be about anything, making it particularly difficult for a programmer or the computer he programs to anticipate.
Prof Warwick said there had been previous claims that the test was passed in similar competitions around the world.
What is particularly significant is that the Turing Test was passed on what would have been the 60th anniversary of Turing's death. Turing was also hailed as the man who laid the foundations of modern computing though he died in rather tragic circumstances, persecuted for being homosexual and later dying from cyanide poisoning.
The possibilities of this means that in future computers could really be programmed to respond the way humans are expected to behave thus making computer security a truly daunting field indeed.