The Turing Test is a means to measure a computer’s ability to express intelligent behavior similar to that of a human being. In a test, a panel of judges engages the machine in text-only conversation, and a computer is considered to have passed the test if it fools at least 30 percent of the group. Proposed by father of artificial intelligence Alan Turing in 1950, no computer has passed until now.

Under the guise of a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman, a Russian-made computer fooled 33 percent of the panel in its Turing Test. So, what could this mean for computers yet to come? Certainly it places a milestone on the computing timeline, and it means a wealth of open possibilities. But many are quick to comment that emulating the speech patterns of a child who uses English as a second language is just a small step toward full articulation, not to mention that mimicry is not a sure sign of intelligence in the first place.

Others, however, fear that this might be a bigger advancement for cyber crime than anything. A computer that can pass the Turing Test is likely to be capable of manipulating people into trusting it. Our best hope is to remember that 67 percent of the judges still weren’t fooled by “Eugene.” But for now we can only wait to see how this development will shape the computing landscape.


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Alex is a musician and self-professed Nintendo geek currently located in Atlanta.

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