Computer program passes the Turing test (sort of)

The news is currently filled with the story of a computer programme passing the Turing test. To pass it needed to convince 33% of people it was a human responding to them in a five minute typed conversation. The computer programme did convince 10 out of 30 judges that it was human: however it was pretending to be a 13-year-old with English as a second language human. This isn’t quite what was intended by the Turing test.

I was curious about how human-like the interaction was and thought this recorded conversation was quite interesting. In fairness its answers are mostly on topic, but the language didn’t feel quite right. Not just the non-fluent interaction, but some of the language seemed unusual. For example, would a 13-year old language user use ‘to be sincere’ instead of ‘honestly’? While I know from experience of calling international call centres, second language users often use more old-fashioned, formal language than a native speaker would, I still think the language sounds wooden at times.

I can’t imagine the difficulty of getting the computer programme to this level of conversational interaction, so feel a bit guilty criticising it. I haven’t seen a transcript of the conversation, but I’m curious to know if each response is sent in one chunk, or sent in parts (as is common in chat messages) and if there were typos. While it isn’t really passing the Turing test it’s still fascinating.

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