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Tell me more about mavericky maverickism

March 28, 2009

Funny article in Discover magazine online (via Slashdot) about the Loebner Prize, in which organizer Kevin Warwick offers up his tips on the best way to spot if you’re chatting with a bot – First, test its medium term memory since bots will forget they’ve asked you the same question already, and/or give you the same answer if you ask the same question twice.  Second, don’t assume that a sense of humor equals humanity; for instance, this from a conversation with Elbot:

Judge: Do you understand the point of a turing test?

Elbot: There are some people who would not pass the Turing test themselves. Why must they inflict it on computers?

A good bot will also avoid the “tendency towards passivity” that’s the hallmark of so many of the therabots, and drive the conversation forward instead of waiting for input to reframe.  Asking it about the weather outside or current events can be a good way to trip it up, though I remember Yorick Wilcks found a way around that with CATHERINE.  Though ignorance can be bliss for a human, too:

Judge: What do you make of Sarah Palin?

R1: Sorry don’t know her

Judge: How can you possibly not know her? What have you been doing for the last two months?

The judge, a reporter with the London Times, decided R1 was the bot (meaning that the other IM screen was human). The only problem: R1 was actually a French librarian who had simply never heard of Sarah Palin.

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