Bletchley Park to host Loebner prize competition

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A competition to find the best conversational computer programme will be hosted by the Bletchley Park Trust.

As part of the 2012 celebrations for the Alan Turing centenary, the Trust is delighted to be hosting the annual Loebner Prize competition.

The chatbot programmes will be competing for a coveted bronze medal and a prize fund of $7,000 sponsored by Dr Hugh Loebner who founded the competition twenty years ago.

The Loebner Prize competition is based on the Turing Test, one of the biggest challenges in the world of Artificial Intelligence. The test was proposed by Alan Turing in his famous 1950 paper entitled Computing Machinery and Intelligence, as a way of determining whether a computer programme could be said to be intelligent. The judges at the competition will conduct conversations with the four finalist chatbots and with some human surrogates, and will then rank all their conversation partners from most humanlike to least humanlike. The chatbot with the highest overall ranking wins the prize.

Visitors will be able to follow the conversations on screens in the Mansion and see if they can tell, themselves, whether they are generated by humans or computers. The conversations will also be streamed live to the internet for the first time this year.

Alan Turing, who was born on June 23rd 1912, was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He is widely regarded as the father of computer science, and had a huge impact on the birth of artificial intelligence, partly by virtue of a section entitled “Can Machines Think?” in “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” an offprint of which is displayed in Bletchley Park’s new exhibition “The Life and Works of Alan Turing.”

Turing’s WW2 work on Enigma played a major role in the winning of the 1941 Battle of the Atlantic. Sir Winston Churchill, amongst others, paid tribute to the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, whose successes in breaking the German Enigma code undoubtedly shortened the war and helped the allies to victory.

The Turing Centenary Loebner Prize competition will take place on 15 May 2012 at Bletchley Park, starting at 1pm.