When you're messaged by one of those annoying Internet chatbots, you can usually tell right away that there's no one on the other side of the screen. But Eugene Goostman, a bot with the personality of a 13-year-old boy, fooled 30 judges at this year's Turing test competition into thinking there was someone one the other side — and took first place.
"Thirteen years old is not too old to know everything and not too young to know nothing," said Vladimir Veselov, the New Jersey-based man who created Eugene.
The competition took place in Milton Keynes, U.K., on June 23 — the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, the man who famously cracked the Nazi's Enigma machine code during WWII. In the 1950s, Turing invented a test for machines with artificial intelligence. According to him, if a machine could fool you into thinking it was also human at least 30% of the time, it could be considered intelligent.
Though Eugene won the competition, he actually fell short of passing that test by only fooling the judges 29% of the time. The judges interacted with 25 humans, who were hidden, and five competing chatbots for a total of 150 conversations.
But fellow contenders agreed that Eugene was special. According to the New Scientist, Veselov has given Eugene a distinct personality, while his competitors weren't as consistent.
"He has created very much a person where [my bot] is everybody," said Rollo Carpenter, who invented the third-place winner Cleverbot.
Eugene also has a background story. He lives in Odessa, Ukraine, has a father who is a gynecologist and owns a guinea pig for a pet.
Do you think you would be fooled? You can try Eugene out yourself here.