The Loebner Prize is being hosted by the University of Exeter.
Exeter leads search for intelligent computer
The University of Exeter will lead the search for an intelligent computer when it hosts the 2011 Loebner Prize on Wednesday 19 October.
An international competition, the Loebner Prize attracts entrants from across the globe, all vying to be the first to create a computer that can truly be described as ‘intelligent’.
The Loebner Prize is designed around the Turing Test, an artificial intelligence test created by Alan Turing, recognised as the father of modern computing and the scientist who was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code. Turing defined a ‘thinking’ computer as one that can accurately mimic human responses to questions. No computer has yet passed the Turing Test, but organisers believe there is a possibility that history could be made in Exeter on 19 October.
The competition is named after its founder, American philanthropist Dr Hugh Loebner, who will travel to Exeter for the event. Established in 1990, the contest offers prizes totalling around £20,000.
Entrants create software that can provide human-like responses to questions posed by a panel of judges.
Computer scientist Dr Ed Keedwell, from the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is organising the event. He said: “We are getting closer to finding an ‘intelligent’ computer all the time. At the University of Exeter we research the complex science of artificial intelligence and I find the question of what makes a machine intelligent truly fascinating.
“The Loebner Prize is a huge international contest and the standard of entries will be world-class. I believe there is a very slim possibility that we could make history in Exeter by seeing the first computer pass the Turing Test. Whatever happens, it is sure to be a really exciting event and we are delighted to be holding it here in Exeter.”
The four finalists selected in June have been fine-tuning their software to give themselves the best chance of winning the $4,000 first prize or even scooping the Silver Medal and $25,000 prize for passing the Turing Test.
Four judges will pose questions and receive responses from either the software created by the competitors, or a human. They will each guess which responses came from a computer and which from a human. If any of the software fools two or more of the panel into believing they have conversed with a fellow human being, the Turing Test will have been passed for the first time in history.
For the first time in its history, the event will also reveal whether children are better than adults at spotting the difference between human and artificial responses. Four students from Torquay Boys’ Grammar School have also been selected to judge the entries in a separate contest.
Following the main contest, the four judges: Antony Galton (Reader in Computer Science, University of Exeter), Paul Marks (Chief Technology Correspondent, New Scientist magazine), Jonny O’Callaghan (Staff Writer How it Works magazine) and Noel Sharkey (Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Professor of Public Engagement, University of Sheffield) will join Hugh Loebner for a panel discussion about artificial intelligence.
Date: 19 October 2011