Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The AI Lab: Can Machines Finally Think?

Alfred Omachar

When English Mathematician Alan Turing first questioned the ability of machines to think back in the 1950’s, the idea of building such computers looked difficult but possible. The computer would have to process language, learn from the conversation, remember what has been said, respond to the human and display common sense. 
Alan Turing

Turing went on to evaluate this possibility by proposing a method that would come to be known as 'the turing test' and was based on an imitation game. Assuming that a computer can sufficiently imitate a human to the point where a suspicious judge cannot tell the difference between an intelligent human and a machine, has actually shown that machines can think. Over the past 60 years, the test has proved to be quite influential to AI researchers resulting to the development of a multitude of AI programs all in an attempt to pass it.

Recently, software called 'Cleverbot', created by AI scientist Rollo Carpenter, was claimed to have passed the Turing test. Cleverbot uses an AI algorithm to chat with humans by searching through previous record conversations and providing an appropriate response. The Cleverbot test took place at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India where a group of participants conducted a conversation with an unknown respondent. Half of the participants were communicating with a human while the other half were communicating with Cleverbot. The software was voted 59% human, scoring higher than any previous Turing test, while the humans themselves were voted 69% human. A score of 50% or higher is considered a pass grade. Therefore, Cleverbot is undoubtedly intelligent but whether it can really think still remains debatable.

Here's a part of my conversation with Cleverbot from its website. Clearly it didn't end well!

User: So cleverbot, are you human or machine?
Cleverbot: Human.

User: Boy or girl?
Cleverbot: Girl.

User: Do you like going out?
Cleverbot: Sometimes.

User: Me too. Want to meet sometime?
Cleverbot: No.

User: But why?
Cleverbot: Because I don't know you.

So can Cleverbot think?
Well, some researchers have argued that passing the test only implies the ability to 'imitate intelligence' and does not mean that a program is actually 'thinking'. Nonetheless, it is not just a matter of the test, but valid proof that the evolution of intelligence programs is no where near its endpoint. 

Want to chat with Cleverbot?
Have a chat with Cleverbot by clicking here, you will be surprised by the results!