When a computer passes as human, many people immediately start thinking of machines taking over the human race, and scenes from the movie The Terminator come to mind. Just because a computer passes as human, does that immediately mean that everyone should start worrying about their futures?
First, people need to look closely at the facts. A team in Russia recently fooled about 30 percent of a panel of judges into believing that a chatbot was human, according to CNET. In reality, when a computer passes as human, it really means that a computer program passes as human.
The chatbot disguised itself as “Eugene Goostman,” a 13-year-old boy. Enough of the judges were fooled into thinking that the chatbot was human for the computer program to pass the Turing Test, according to NBCNews.
The Turing Test was designed by Alan Turing, also known as “the father of modern computer science”, and challenges the way people think about a machine’s capabilities.
No other computer program has passed the test until now, and people are contemplating whether or not they should be worried about the revelation that a computer program actually passes as human.
The judges who chatted with the chatbot were led to believe that the person they were talking to was a non-native speaker of English. The test was done completely in English for five minutes.
Imagine trying to decipher whether or not a chatbot is really a human, especially if you expect his language to be less than perfect. To top it off, imagine that human is a 13-year-old. According to some people, a 13-year-old barely passes the guidelines for reliable conversation that can be distinguished as solely human.
It can be said that a 13-year-old, especially a non-native English speaking teenager, will be full of errors in his speech and even in his subject. Had the chatbot disguised itself as a 50-year-old schoolteacher, it might have been that the judges would not have been led to the conclusion that the program passes as human.
Software development engineer and father of “Eugene Goostman,” Vladimir Veselov, explained, “This year we improved the ‘dialog controller,’ which makes the conversation far more human-like when compared to programs that just answer questions. Going forward we plan to make Eugene smarter and continue working on improving what we refer to as ‘conversation logic.'”
It is not likely that a computer program which passes as human should cause the human race to worry about whether or not their own computers will turn against them and declare war on the human race.
Kevin Warwick, a visiting professor at the University of Reading, believes that computer programs that are believed to be human are valuable tools to use against cyber-crime. He said, “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.”
It is true that such a computer program could be used as a cyber-crime asset for tricking innocent humans, as well. After all, there are plenty of people who are fooled into handing their money over by actual humans via email, phone calls and many other ways. Whether the scam artist is human or a computer program, people must use common sense in order to protect themselves.
Basically, a computer program that passes as human is really a computer program backed and operated by a human. Until computer programs can actually think for themselves, it is likely that people only need to fear other people for the time being.