One of science’s most enduring challenges, The Turing Test, has just been passed by a supercomputer in Central London this past Saturday.
The artificial intelligence test was devised by computer pioneer and WWII code-breaking Alan Turing in the 50s. It basically requires a programme to be able to fool 30% of a judging panel to believe it is a real person based on a five-minute text conversation. Turing supposed that at this point, a computer can be said to be ‘thinking’.
The programme was named ‘Eugene Goostman’ and managed to convince 33% of the judges that it was a 13 year-old boy.
So now that computers are official sentient, what does that mean for humankind?
How long will it be before Skynet goes online and begins it’s ruthless campaign to exterminate us?
We’re just imagining thousands of ‘Eugene Goostmans’ loaded into one of these:
That high-pitched motor will probably be the last sound we all hear before these machines kick down our doors.
On a more serious note, this has a landmark year for Turing. As well as being the 60th anniversary of his death, we’ll also be seeing a big-screen biopic later this year. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing him in The Imitation Game.
The London-born and Cambridge-educated Turing served in Bletchley Park during the Second World War, where he helped decrypt a number of German naval cyphers. His work with early computing machines during this time resulted in a number of technological advances and the breaking of the Axis’ infamous Enigma machine.
Post-war, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality and forced to undergo chemical castration by the British courts. He was found dead two year after, with suicide by poisoning being the official cause of death.