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How relevant is the Loebner prize in the field of AI?


The Loebner prize is an annual competition in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) which was first launched in 1990. Judges simultaneously have text-based conversations with a computer program and a human being via a computer. Judges are tasked with inferring which is AI and which is a human by asking a series of questions, after which they make a selection. The prize is awarded to the AI that performs the best on the day of the competition.

The competition was set up by and named after the New York businessman Hugh Loebner, and is based on the Turing test, named after Alan Turing, who is widely considered to be the father of computing (creating a definition of general computing) and AI.

The 2018 Loebner prize final is being held at Bletchley Park, where during the Second World War Turing helped crack the code on the German Enigma machines using the Bombe. Four contestants have made it to the 2018 finals, held on September 8, and WikiTribune will be attending.

Questions this article should seek to answer:

  • Why is the Loebner prize useful in charting the progress of AI?
  • What are the criticisms of the Loebner prize?
  • How could the Loebner prize version of theTuring test be improved?
  • Has the Turing test already been passed (see Vox article) and if not when will it be?
  • How far away is the prize from being reached?

add your suggestions here

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Secured interviews

  • Steve Worswick, creator of chatbot ‘Mitsuku’, who has won the Loebner Prize three times and is one of the four contestants at this year’s final

Proposed interviews

  • Ron Lee, creator of ‘Tutor’ – one of the four contestants at this year’s final
  • Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield
  • Hector Levesque, a critic of the Loebener prize and a University of Toronto computer scientist

Proposed questions for any interviewees

  • What are the main categories of AI? (Allude to an example of each for the reader to understand in terms of publicly facing research)
  • Which areas of AI does the Loebner prize successfully test and which does it fall short of addressing?
  • Why is the Loebner prize considered by some (possibly need to name people) to be not useful?
  • What impacts on society will occur from the winning of the Loebner prize?
  • How close is the prize from being achieved? (This could get quite a varied response depending on who answers it)

Add an interview suggestion or question

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