LONDON — In a milestone for artificial intelligence, a computer program passed the Turing Test at an event Saturday at the Royal Society in London by pretending to be right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Conceived in 1950 by mathematician Alan Turing, the Turing test proposes that a sufficiently-advanced machine will be capable of simulating conversational responses indistinguishable from those of a human being, provided the participants are separated from direct contact. If the judge cannot distinguish the machine from the human, the machine “passes” the test.
Judges at the event were told they would be exchanging messages with the 63-year-old conservative icon. One-third of the judges were fooled into believing they were conversing with a real human. A portion of the conversation is reproduced below.
“Hi Rush Limbaugh! My name is Prof. Hampton from the University of Reading. How are things with you today?”
“I feel sad, because Barack Obama is a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. Any other insights into American politics?”
“Lowering taxes always increases tax revenue.”
“What type of music do you listen to? I’m a big fan of the Black Keys.”
“Out-of-wedlock births is [sic] caused by the Voting Rights Act.”
“I thought, ‘Without question, I’m speaking to Rush Limbaugh, no doubt about it,’ ” Professor Hampton later told reporters. “You can imagine how much of a shock it was to be told that it was actually a computer mindlessly regurgitating pre-scripted responses.”
The announcement has not been without its critics; some have complained that the program’s creators unfairly gamed the test by pretending to be someone with a weak grasp of the English language.