Judges with London's Royal Society believed the computer program they were talking to was human, making it the first to pass the Turing Test. Credit: Getty Images
Remember having conversations with AOL Instant Messenger's pretentious talking bot, SmarterChild? Well, it just got owned by a computer that successfully convinced people it was actually a person last Saturday in London.
The chatterbot fooled 33 percent of a judging panel that it was actually 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman after a five-minute conversation during an artificial intelligence competition held by the Royal Society, recognized for scientific advancement.
The bot was deemed successful after it passed the Turing test, in which a computer must convince at least 30 percent of a group of humans that it's also human after a five-minute chat. The test was created in 1950 by English computer scientist Alan Turing. By his standard, the computer has achieved some level of true artificial intelligence.
Rather than a breakthrough, the news is more of an improvement. The computer was created in 2001 and its earlier version achieved 29 percent in 2012. Nonetheless, the new version has now reached a landmark in the field of artificial intelligence.
Project director John Denning says that his team didn't expect to break the 30-percent barrier, according to a report from NBC News. "We came close before but we didn't really expect it to happen," he says.
The bot could help battle cyber crime in the future, Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading, tells NBC News. It was created by software engineers Eugene Demchenko and Vladimir Veselov in St. Petersburg, Russia. Out of five computers in the competition, it was the one who most efficiently imitated a human.
The competition took place on the 60th anniversary of Turing's death. Turing helped decipher Germany's Enigma code during World War II. He committed suicide in 1954 after his homosexuality was considered a crime, but was granted a posthumous royal pardon six months ago.