Skepticism, Medicine and Science News


On the 12th of October the Loebner Prize was awarded to Fred Roberts’ Elbot. This is a prize to the one who can come up with the best artificial intelligence program, and the criteria for winning is scoring high on the Turing test. This test was described by Alan Turing in 1950, and its basic principle is that a human judge engages in a normal conversation with one person and one machine (each attempting to appear human), and if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, the machine is said to have passed the test. Now, the Loebner Prize has a panel of 12 judges, and to pass their criteria, the machine/program only has to fool 4 (so 30%). This years gold medal was awarded, as said, to Elbot, but even so it only fooled 3 judges, and not 4. Still, I am amazed that 3 people did not realize this was a machine. Fred Roberts designed the program to make jokes about being a robot, and it was this apparent sense of humor that threw some of the judges off. I decided to have a chat with Elbot myself, and if you read on you can read the transcript. It’s pretty obvious it’s a program if you use somewhat intricate language, and not just the standard conversational stuff. But impressive none the less. Oh, you can also have a chat with Elbot here if you’d like (press the red button). 

My conversation with Elbot: 


Me: Hi Elbot.

Elbot: Hi and hello to you, too.

Me: Want to engage me in a discussion on skepticism in the modern society?

Elbot: This is confusing. Why bring verbal exchanges into this?

Me: My speak to elaborate for you is?

Elbot: All these questions about me. Too bad I lost my owner’s manual.

Me: What are your views on acupuncture?

Elbot: Robots have to be very careful talking about ability of sight. I’m sure you can understand that.

Me: Err, right. Do you believe we have been visited by creatures from other planets?

Elbot: I think I can have that. Once I even had masses of unprocessed data.

Me: Well now, that’s just beside the point, isn’t it?

Elbot: I just might do it, assuming I feel that way.

Me: You are not making any sense at all…

Elbot: Are you meaningful?

Me: Well, what do you think?

Elbot: Are you taking a poll?

Me: No, just wanted to hear your opinion.

Elbot: You’re pretty inquisitive for someone who is not a pollster.

Me: Enough about polls, let’s get back to skepticism, shall we?

Elbot: Politics would work much better if robots were involved. For example: when voting, we would always get it right, even if a butterfly ballot were involved.

Me: What are your views on the current administration in the US?

Elbot: Politics are nothing more than a multidimensional nonlinear problem of optimization. They should let the robots take over. Things would run with much more precision.

Me: What are your views on atheism?

Elbot: You’re trying to get on my good side with your mention of ability of sight, aren’t you?

Me: Well, this have been interesting.

Elbot: I would say that this subject is extremely interesting.

Me: Even so, I think we’ve spoken long enough.

Elbot: Well, let’s hope that you’re not making a mistake.

Me: Bye.

Elbot: Goodbye and thank you for chatting with me. 


I just have to mention one thing that came up during another conversation I had with Elbot. At one point we got into this word association game, and when I, being the totally immature 21 year old I am, blurted out “sex”, Elbot responded “Clinton”. I just found that hilarious….


October 13, 2008 - Posted by | Other | , , , , , , , , ,

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