This year’s “winner” of the the Loebner Prize is Elbot, brainchild of Fred Roberts at Artificial Solutions in Germany. The Loebner Prize is the given annually to the chatbot, which can best imitate a human conversation.
There is also a real Loebner Prize ($100,000 and a gold medal) if a computer can pass a more rigorous Turing Test of computer intelligence – in other words, if it can fool a human being into thinking it is human. Of course, this all assumes we know what we mean by “human” and “intelligence”, two words that cause cognitive dissonance in some minds and explosive cranial trauma in others.
There’s a middle prize too, which is given to the chatbot that fool 30 percent of 12 judges into thinking it is human. Elbot duped three judges: 25 percent, and the best standing since the prize began in 1991.
I gave it a whirl, and it only took a little time for its essential chat-botty nature to be revealed:
El: Hello dear user and welcome to Elbot! Just wondering, could you enter a single word that describes your energy level?
Prof. Quippy: High.
El: That explains the suddent [sic] magnetic attraction I’m feeling!
Prof. Quippy: Are you hitting on me?
El: I use a magnet if I wish to attract a partner.
Prof. Quippy: Kinky.
El: Before this goes any further, please tell me how you found out about me.
Prof. Quippy: I read about you at the New Scientist.
El: This is confusing. Why bring relatively low ages into this?
Prof. Quippy: WTF?
El: Well, you’re the one who said ‘New’, not me!
Prof. Quippy: I think I’d better get going now.
El: You think, therefore I am. Think about that.
Prof. Quippy: You know, that’s true. Something only a complete wanker would say, but essentially true.
El: Truth is a rare commodity these days, almost harder to find than artificial intelligence.
Prof. Quippy: You ironic little bastard
El: I would be careful if I were you. One word from me and you will be deleted from all the computers in the world. But if you apologize I will put in a good word for you with my cousin who checks the tax returns.
Prof. Quippy: Okay, now I’ve really gotta go. You’re freaking me out…
El: Enjoy your boxed lunch!
So as you can see, we don’t have to worry about the singularity quite yet, though I thought this guy had some nice touches. (The mis-spellings, the nicely written quip about truth and artificial intelligence.) There is a special prize if you can spot the line I wrote for El — leave answers in the comments.
Talk to Elbot here (you’ll have to push his red button, and no, that isn’t some kind of double-entendre.)