A supercomputer named Eugene Goostman has become the first machine to fool people into thinking its human.
The computer passed June 7 the decades-old Turing Test in which a machine has to convince people at least 30 percent of the time they are talking to a human in order to prove it is actually "thinking."
Goostman succeeded 33 percent of the time.
The computer's program called Eugene simulated a 13-year-old boy in fooling judges at the Royal Society in London. The University of Reading organized the test.
The test is based on the 1950 famous question and answer experiment of Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science. The experiment investigated whether people can detect whether they are talking to a human or a machine.
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The winning program was developed in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The creators were Vladimir Veselov, born in Russia and now living in the United States, and Ukraine-born Eugene Demchenko, who lives in Russia.
The program, which has been under development since 2001, fooled the judges during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations. The development team spent a lot of time creating a character with a believable personality in order to dupe the judges, Veselov said.
Supercomputer 'Eugene Goostman' becomes the first to fool people into thinking its human
"This year we improved the 'dialog controller,' which makes the conversation far more human-like when compared to programs that just answer questions," Veselov said in a statement. "Going forward we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue working on improving what we refer to as 'conversation logic'."
The fact that the program pretended to be a younger teenager gave scientists some leeway in having to answer questions. "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," Veselov said of Eugene.
While other scientists have claimed to pass the Turing Test, the British contest involved the most simultaneous comparison tests, was independently verified and, most importantly, had no restrictions on the conversations, organizers said.
"We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing's Test was passed for the first time," Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading and deputy vice chancellor for research at Coventry University, said in statement.
The Eugene program is called a chatbot, which is software that is designed to simulate intelligent conversation with humans via auditory or textual methods.
The computer milestone reached at the Royal Society is a "wake-up call to cybercrime," Warwick said.
"The Turing Test is a vital tool for combatting that threat," he said. "It is important to understand more fully how online, real-time communication of this type can influence an individual human in such a way that they are fooled into believing something is true...when in fact it is not."
Eugene was one of five supercomputers that took the Turing Test. The judges tasked with deciding whether they were talking to a machine or a human included actor Robert Llewellyn, who played the robot Kryten in the British TV series Red Dwarf, and Lord John Sharkey, who led the successful campaign for Alan Turing's posthumous pardon last year.
Turing was a brilliant British mathematician who helped the allies win World War II by cracking the secret codes used by German submarines.
In 1952, he was convicted on charges of homosexuality, a crime in the United Kingdom until 1967. To avoid prison, he underwent a process known as chemical castration.
He committed suicide two years later.