Your new computer overlord is here. And he thinks he's a 13-year-old boy.
Computer programmers from Russia put a potentially revolutionary new work to the test at England's University of Reading this weekend. The Turing Test, specifically. And it passed.
Alan Turing was a computer scientist and cryptoanalysis engineer who broke German ciphers during WWII. He's been called the "father of artificial intelligence and theoretical computer science." The Turing Test, which he created in 1950, indicated that once a computer program was able to convince 30 percent of humans interacting with it that it was a human being, the computer could be said to be "thinking." On Saturday—the 60th anniversary of Turing's death—a program called Eugene Goostman did just that. Thirty-three percent of human participants thought they were talking to another person.
Eugene Goostman—or Gene, as we imagine his middle school buddies call him—was programmed to behave and talk like a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine. Why is our first digital overlord a Ukrainian preteen and not a slick Steve Jobs clone? Adolescents are easier to program, his creators told The Independent:
"Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn't know everything," said Vladimir Veselov, one of the creators of the programme. "We spent a lot of time developing a character with a believable personality."
So, ok. The future is now, and we would like to welcome our new overlord with an age-appropriate offering: A pile of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, a copy of the new Mario Kart, and a box of dirty magazines we found in the garage. Please don't outsource our jobs to the cloud!