The hardest Turing test described so far is one set up as part of a $20,000 bet between the futurologist Ray Kurzweil and the Lotus founder, Mitch Kapor. Kapor bet that no robot would pass the test before 2029, and the rules call for the challenger and three human foils to have two-hour conversations with each of three judges. The robot must convince two of the three judges that it is human, and be ranked as “more human” on average than at least two of the actual human competitors.
The big breakthrough behind Eugene, the University of Reading’s winner, was in giving the robot the persona of a 13-year-old boy. “Our main idea was that [Eugene] can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything,” said the robot’s creator, Vladimir Veselov. It also makes affectations like misspellings look more plausible than they would coming from an “adult”.
The Turing test is a test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine that is designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so that the result would not be dependent on the machine’s ability to render words as speech. If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human (Turing originally suggested that the machine would convince a human 70% of the time after five minutes of conversation), the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely answers resemble those a human would give.