Last weekend saw the annual Loebner Prize contest take place. The ultimate aim of this contest is to create a computer whose responses are indistinguishable from those of a human. This is based on the work of Alan Turing, who in the 1950s proposed the question ‘Can machines think?’
Perhaps thankfully, this goal has yet to be reached – however each year a prize is given for the most human-like computer.
This year’s winner was a chatbot called Mitsuku
A chatbot is a computer program that simulates humanlike conversational skills via artificial intelligence. The first chatbot created, back in 1964 was called Eliza and was a relatively simple example of natural language processing.
The interesting thing about Mitsuku is that it was never originally intended to be as sophisticated as it is today, it started life as a simple added attraction to its creator’s (Steve Worswick) dance music website. It eventually became the main attraction of the site rather than the music itself.
With technology becoming smaller and more powerful all the time (see Moore’s law) and thanks to the advent of Smartphones it’s becoming more integrated with our day to day lives – we already have virtual personal assistants in the form of Sherpa and many others. At some point soon it is very likely that we will reach that point where we are unable to distinguish artificial intelligence from natural intelligence… and from that point maybe we will see the creation of the first real artificial intelligence.
Let’s just hope it is more of a Johnny 5 than T-100.