"Can machines think?" In 1950, English mathematician Alan Turing published a paper on artificial intelligence that posed this question. Out of this came the now-famous Turing Test, where a human interrogator is tasked with determining which test subject is a computer and which is a human by reading their typed responses. In other words, can a computer trick a human into thinking it is actually a fellow sentient being?
For a computer to pass the test, it need only fool 30 percent of the human interrogators who converse with it for five minutes in a text conversation. Recently, and for the first time, a computer passed the 65-year old test. Thirty-three percent of the people who took part in a five minute keyboard conversations at the Royal Society in London using the computer program "Eugene Goostman" thought that the computer was actually a Ukrainian 13-year old boy.
Russian software development engineer Vladimir Veselov and software engineer Eugene Demchenko created Eugene. The recent event took place on the 60'th anniversary of Turing's death.
The win caused some people to worry that such machines could be a diabolical influence in cyber crime. But Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading, says, "A computer that can think and act like a person can be an asset to battling cyber crime." Perhaps helping draw out criminals by fooling them?
Turing helped crack Germany's Enigma code during World War II and came up with the concept of a “universal machine” that could act and think like a human. He designed an electromechanical device known as the "Bombe,” which let a team code-named “Ultra” decipher intercepted German messages. Prime Minister Winston Churchill credited "Ultra" with winning the war.