A machine came within 5% of beating the turing test at this weekend's annual Loebner Prize competition at the University of Reading.
The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence. Named after Alan Turing, a British mathematician, the test has been available for more than 50 years. Machines were pitted against humans over a chat interface similar to IRC. Jugdes were drafted in to differentiate between a human and a machine during a natural language conversation.
No machine, in the history of the Loebner Prize, has ever managed to deceive 30 per cent of the judges to pass the turing test.
One machine named Elbot came within 5% of fooling the judges, the most successful score ever.
"Although the machines aren't yet good enough to fool all of the people all of the time, they are certainly at the stage of fooling some of the people some of the time," said Professor Kevin Warwick, of the School of Systems Engineering at the University of Reading, and organiser of this year's test.
This years score is a clear indication that computers are getting much better at communicating with humans in a natural and convincing way.