Welcome 2012 – the Alan Turing Year

It is the last week of 2011 and time to look at the year that lies ahead. For everyone involved in the industry of chatbots and artificial intelligence it will be an exciting year for sure as 2012 has been designated “Alan Turing Year”, commemorating the mathematician, computer pioneer, and code-breaker on the centennial of Turing’s birth.

Alan Turing, (1912 – 1954), was an English mathematician and computer scientist whose Turing machine played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. In the world of artificial intelligence his “Turing test” is widely recognized as a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior.

In Turing’s original illustrative example of the test, a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All participants are separated from one another and if the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.

The only chatbot to almost pass the Turing test so far is Elbot who in October 2008 convinced three of the 12 human interrogators at the Loebner prize that he was indistinguishable from human, beating the other contestants and taking the Bronze Prize. If Elbot had convinced one other judge, he would have passed the 30% mark – the threshold set by Alan Turing.

These days Elbot and other chatbots are again getting prepared for the next big Loebner contest which will take place in May 2012. If there is a time for the very first chatbot to show true human intelligence, there is no better time than next year.

Happy Alan Turing Year!

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