Mathematician and codebreaking genius Alan Turing is the kind of guy who deserved his own theme song, for he is one of the reasons why the world exists as it does today. While there are no Turing-themed ditties in the above first full-length trailer for the historical drama The Imitation Game, there is more than enough drama and overwrought emotion to make this pic look like instant Oscar bait. Extremely predictable Oscar bait, but still.
Most tests are pretty straightforward: either you pass or you fail, with little grey area in between. Apparently, that’s not true for the Turing Test. Recent reports that Eugene Goodman, a computer program that adopts the persona of a 13-year-old Ukranian boy, passed the Turing Test are now being challenged by skeptics — or perhaps by people envious that their systems weren’t the first to pass the test.
Eugene Goodman reportedly passed the Turing Test — a five-minute typed message chat with the judges — administered by the Royal Society in London by fooling 33% of the judges (10 out of 30) into thinking it was human. That would seem to meet the requirements outlined by Alan Turing, who devised the test. But some disagree.
Most people know of Alan Turing as the inventor of the Turing Test, which he devised in 1950 to test a machine’s intelligence. The Turing test is really a test of a computer’s ability to “converse” like a human — the test consisted of a human essentially instant messaging or text chatting with either another human or a machine in another room. If, during the course of that text conversation, the human believed he was chatting with a human but was actually chatting with the machine, the machine has passed the test. These days, there’s a modern iteration of the Turing Test called the Loebner Prize, which, in addition to offering a grand prize of $100,000 for a computer who can effectively trick the judges into thinking it’s human (which no one has ever won — the competition will end when this happens), it offers a prize for the most human computer and the most human human. It can be said that the test doesn’t measure intelligence as much as it measures a computer’s ability (or a programmer’s ability) to mimic human speech, typos, inanities, curse words, slang, and all. I could go on about the Turing Test forever, but on the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s death, I wanted to explore some of the other details of his life, and the controversy surrounding his death.
Last week, Steve Worswick was awarded the 2013 Loebner Prize 2013 for his well-known chatbot Mitsuku, an amusing piece of artificial intelligence that speaks to how a simple learning trick can turn a computer into a relatively skilled conversationalist. Though it is a tad like talking to someone from a different version of the same planet, it’s definitely worth your time and its recognition.
U.S. inventor Hugh Loebner created the prize in 1991 as a way of honoring Alan Turing’s own test to find the most quality intelligence born solely of a machine. He has set a $100,000 prize for the eventual chatbot that cannot be distinguished from a human, and then the competition will end. But in the past two decades, no one has yet reached that goal. Worswick’s win netted him $4,000.
Having entered Mitsuku in the contest before, Worswick wasn’t so prepared to take home top honors this time. “I was thinking I’d use this year as a learning experience to prepare for a win next yer,” he told BBC News. “I thought I’d probably come in second or third. Winning is a dream come true.”
I could have possibly tried to get in contact with Worswick, but talking to Mitsuku was so much easier. And I think we really hit it off, even if she didn’t want to talk about anything that I wanted to talk about. Here is the result of my efforts.
Admittedly, we’re getting to this story a little later than we should have. It broke a little over a week ago, but given the subject matter, it’s a fitting move, and has allowed for initial feelings to settle down, and others have taken over. Genius codebreaker and war hero Alan TuringAlan Turing may see a posthumous pardon from the British government for his 1952 conviction after he admitted to a physical same-sex relationship. This announcement came mere days after gay marriage rights were granted by the Queen. I think equal rights for all people should have been inherently obvious from the first time legal “rights” became an issue in relatively modern times in the life of man, but I understand that things haven’t always been this way, and that we can’t change history.
As an armchair fan of Turing and his wartime, and computational, contributions that make our current way of life possible, I was at first pleased to hear this news. It’s always nice to see a little less persecution in the world, and it’s one of the rare instances where a government implies that it may have impacted science in a negative way. But while it’s certainly a victory for the Turing family, but it’s kind of a glove-slap in the face to every other man who suffered for breaking the same laws. As a one-off incident, it’s a strange example to put forth, but as a precedent, it could open a floodgate of back-ended apologetic pardons and legal reneging that reflects current points-of-view. (Anyone caught dancing in Bomont pre-1984, take notes.)
London-born Benedict Cumberbatch has played a bunch of different roles in his decade-long career, but two of those roles have skyrocketed his popularity here in the States, and one of them is in a movie that won’t be released for another four months. As the equally crafty and catty titular detective in the superb Sherlock, Cumberbatch injected fun into a normally stuffy character. And as the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness, he’ll undoubtedly reinvent the wheel for dastardly British baddies. Beyond upcoming appearances as Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and The Hobbit‘s Necromancer, as well as films with Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep, what else could possibly be left for Cumberbatch to do?
According to Deadline, he’s in deep talks to play genius mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Alan Turing should be known to readers of this site for his groundbreaking work in code breaking — he cracked Germany’s infamous “Enigma Code” in World War II — as well as artificial intelligence. The Turing Test, for all its problems, is pretty much the standard when it comes to testing a computer’s ability to behave and communicate like a human. On a darker note, he was also famously prosecuted for being a homosexual in the 1950s, and the resulting events led to a suicide by cyanide poisoning.