‘A white mask worked better’: why algorithms are not colour blind | Technology | The Guardian

When Joy Buolamwini found that a robot recognised her face better when she wore a white mask, she knew a problem needed fixing

Fuente: ‘A white mask worked better’: why algorithms are not colour blind | Technology | The Guardian


Facebook Won’t Say If It Will Use Your Brain Activity for Advertisements

“We have taken a distinctly different, non-invasive and deeply scientific approach to building a brain-computer speech-to-text interface,” the company says, describing the project as “a silent speech interface with the speed and flexibility of voice and the privacy of text,” with a stated goal of allowing “100 words per minute, straight from the speech center of your brain.” This process will be executed “via non-invasive sensors that can be shipped at scale” using “optical imaging” that can poll “brain activity hundreds of times per second.”

Fuente: Facebook Won’t Say If It Will Use Your Brain Activity for Advertisements


La omnipresencia de los algoritmos en la vida cotidiana y en los grandes saltos de la tecnología – El Mostrador

En el siglo XXI, procesos como encontrar pareja, trabajo, reconocer rostros, tomar fotos, construir -y manejar- autos y enviar emails, entre otros servicios entregados por aplicaciones móviles, se basan también en el uso de algoritmos. Y Chile no está ajeno al avance científico y matemático en torno a ellos.

Fuente: La omnipresencia de los algoritmos en la vida cotidiana y en los grandes saltos de la tecnología – El Mostrador


Injusticia algorítmica | CCCB LAB

La inteligencia artificial permite que decisiones que hasta ahora tomábamos los humanos puedan automatizarse mediante algoritmos informáticos. Aunque buena parte de esas decisiones se hallan en el campo del entretenimiento y las redes sociales, también las encontramos en las finanzas, la educación, el mercado laboral, las aseguradoras, la medicina o la justicia. Ante este fenómeno, de implicaciones sociales profundas, aparecen varias preguntas: ¿qué pasará con los puestos de trabajo asociados a esas tomas de decisiones? ¿Cómo podemos garantizar que esos algoritmos tomen decisiones justas?

Fuente: Injusticia algorítmica | CCCB LAB


Científicos ya piensan en cómo revertir un apocalipsis fruto de la Inteligencia Artificial – El Mostrador

Consistió en una suerte de juegos apocalípticos de IA que organizaron a alrededor de 40 científicos, expertos en ciberseguridad y especialistas en políticas en grupos de atacantes (equipo rojo) y defensores (equipo azul) que reprodujeron escenarios catastróficos en IA, desde manipulación del mercado bursátil hasta guerra global.

Fuente: Científicos ya piensan en cómo revertir un apocalipsis fruto de la Inteligencia Artificial – El Mostrador


The Observer view on artificial intelligence | Observer editorial | Opinion | The Guardian

This means that the move towards an algorithmically driven society also represents a radical power-shift, away from citizens and consumers and towards a smallish number of powerful, pathologically secretive technology companies, whose governing philosophy seems to be that they should know everything about us, but that we should know as little as possible about their operations.

Fuente: The Observer view on artificial intelligence | Observer editorial | Opinion | The Guardian


How much can I help you? Alexa’s voice recognition skills tested – video | Life and style | The Guardian

With voice recognition software being used in household products, Dr Hannah Fry explores how it works – and what the future might bring.

Fuente: How much can I help you? Alexa’s voice recognition skills tested – video | Life and style | The Guardian


Amazon and Google fight crucial battle over voice recognition | Technology | The Guardian

The retail giant has a threatening lead over its rival with the Echo and Alexa, as questions remain over how the search engine can turn voice technology into revenue

Fuente: Amazon and Google fight crucial battle over voice recognition | Technology | The Guardian


Las ciudades inteligentes y el problema de la vigilancia | Derechos Digitales

Las tecnologías inteligentes apuntan a mejorar las condiciones de vida en las ciudades. Sin embargo, son también capaces de poner en entredicho nuestra privacidad. ¿Cuál es el límite de lo smart?

Fuente: Las ciudades inteligentes y el problema de la vigilancia | Derechos Digitales


KFC China is using facial recognition tech to serve customers – but are they buying it? | Technology | The Guardian

Despite being billed as artificial intelligence, the technology is more about convenience – and publicity – at this stage of development. “The digitalisation of the restaurant will also help to provide faster and easier services,” said Zhao Li, general manager of Beijing KFC.

Fuente: KFC China is using facial recognition tech to serve customers – but are they buying it? | Technology | The Guardian


La era cognitiva de Watson: La frontera con las máquinas que la humanidad ya cruzó – El Mostrador

Atrás quedaron las máquinas que controlaban el mundo en la ciencia ficción. En la época de la big data, las computadoras pensantes ya no forman parte de una visión de futuro. Hoy, en la era de la informática cognitiva, las máquinas ya no se programan, aprenden y se comunican con los seres humanos. En un hecho inédito, próximamente El Mostrador emitirá por TV la primera entrevista en Chile a una máquina de inteligencia aritificial.

Fuente: La era cognitiva de Watson: La frontera con las máquinas que la humanidad ya cruzó – El Mostrador


Sexual harassment in virtual reality feels all too real – ‘it’s creepy beyond creepy’ | Technology | The Guardian

Sexual harassment has been a feature of online and gaming communities from the earliest days of the internet. Until now, the abuse has been largely limited to verbal and visual messages, but as virtual reality technology becomes more immersive, the line between our real bodies and our digital bodies begins to blur.

Fuente: Sexual harassment in virtual reality feels all too real – ‘it’s creepy beyond creepy’ | Technology | The Guardian


How old do you look? I wouldn’t ask the internet | Tim Dowling | Opinion | The Guardian

The how-old.net website – which uses photos to judge your age – didn’t work for me. For women and refugees, of course, there’s the Daily Mail

Fuente: How old do you look? I wouldn’t ask the internet | Tim Dowling | Opinion | The Guardian


Half of US adults are recorded in police facial recognition databases, study says | World news | The Guardian

More than 117 million adults included in ‘virtual, perpetual lineup’, which authorities can use to track citizens, raising concerns over privacy and profiling

Fuente: Half of US adults are recorded in police facial recognition databases, study says | World news | The Guardian


DeepMind: un paso más hacia el desarrollo de computadores que piensan – El Mostrador

Los científicos que trabajan en esta unidad de inteligencia artificial que fue adquirida hace dos años por Google, consiguieron desarrollar un DNC, que consiste en un computador neuronal diferenciable (DNC) capaz de resolver problemas a pequeña escala sin conocimientos previos.

Fuente: DeepMind: un paso más hacia el desarrollo de computadores que piensan – El Mostrador


Machine learning: why we mustn’t be slaves to the algorithm | Opinion | The Guardian

There’s a huge buzz around the marvels of machine learning, but computers are only as good as the biased data we feed them

Fuente: Machine learning: why we mustn’t be slaves to the algorithm | Opinion | The Guardian


In the age of the algorithm, the human gatekeeper is back | Technology | The Guardian

The rise of algorithms has been relentless, but we need human input in our world of technological innovations

Fuente: In the age of the algorithm, the human gatekeeper is back | Technology | The Guardian


Santiago, Smart City: en defensa de las ciudades estúpidas | Oficina Antivigilância

Nadie quiere vivir en una ciudad tonta. La idea de marketing detrás de las Smart Cities -así, en inglés, porque le da un toque de modernidad a lo Silicon Valley- es, en ese sentido, impecable. Pero ¿podemos si quiera considerar a una ciudad como estúpida? Al parecer, para los evangelistas de las ciudades inteligentes, y siguiendo la lógica de los pares binarios (bueno/malo; inteligente/tonto), sí.

Fuente: Santiago, Smart City: en defensa de las ciudades estúpidas | Oficina Antivigilância


The algorithms using data to suggest your next purchase – FT.com

Recommendation engines help Amazon to suggest books you might like, Linked­In to flag up jobs you could apply for and Facebook to suggest friends to contact. They also make proposals for the 125m hours of films and television that users of online streaming service Netflix watch every day.

Fuente: The algorithms using data to suggest your next purchase – FT.com


Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies

On the 21st floor of a high-rise hotel in Cleveland, in a room full of political operatives, Microsoft’s Research Division was advertising a technology that could read each facial expression in a massive crowd, analyze the emotions, and report back in real time. “You could use this at a Trump rally,” a sales representative told me.

Fuente: Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies


Digital advertising: Brands versus bots — FT.com

Shailin Dhar began his career on the dark side of the online advertising industry. In 2013, aged 24, he started working for a New York-based entrepreneur who owned dozens of bogus websites. His job was to inflate the number of visits to the sites — thereby boosting advertising sales — by purchasing fake web traffic.

Fuente: Digital advertising: Brands versus bots — FT.com


Regulators use Silicon Valley’s AI to catch rogue traders – FT.com

As markets increasingly rely on computer algorithms, reality is imitating fiction: artificial intelligence is becoming a bigger part of investing and it is also helping regulators ensure that traders do not get away with bad behaviour.

Fuente: Regulators use Silicon Valley’s AI to catch rogue traders – FT.com


Vinton Cerf: Internet será sustituido por algo más barato y rápido

“Con el Internet de las cosas los dispositivos conectados pueden ser programados para hacer cosas malas sin que nos demos cuenta” ha alertado el actual vicepresidente de Google, quien además ha transmitido su preocupación por el estado de la neutralidad de red y sus planes de conectar un red interplanetaria que mejore las comunicaciones en la Tierra.

Fuente: Vinton Cerf: Internet será sustituido por algo más barato y rápido


Automation threatens India’s IT services model – FT.com

India’s information technology service companies have long held reputations as innovators, but in recent years the ground has begun to shift. The model that allowed them to grow effectively — deploying cheap labour to perform simple IT tasks — is itself being disrupted by advances in technology.

Fuente: Automation threatens India’s IT services model – FT.com


Realidad virtual: de anécdota a realidad – El Mostrador

“Habrá un momento en que, a nivel general, todos habremos entendido el valor concreto de la realidad virtual, y lo que hoy vemos como una experiencia casi lúdica a través de imágenes de esparcimiento, luego sabrá ser entendido como una herramienta de desarrollo y aprendizaje”.

Fuente: Realidad virtual: de anécdota a realidad – El Mostrador


Face recognition app taking Russia by storm may bring end to public anonymity | Technology | The Guardian

FindFace compares photos to profile pictures on social network Vkontakte and works out identities with 70% reliability

Fuente: Face recognition app taking Russia by storm may bring end to public anonymity | Technology | The Guardian


Only Humans Need Apply – Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby – Hardcover

An invigorating, thought-provoking, and positive look at the rise of automation that explores how professionals across industries can find sustainable careers in the near future.Nearly half of all working Americans could risk losing their jobs because of technology. It’s not only blue-collar jobs at stake. Millions of educated knowledge workers—writers, paralegals, assistants, medical technicians—are threatened by accelerating advances in artificial intelligence.

Fuente: Only Humans Need Apply – Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby – Hardcover


Google va más allá de los mapas: mostrará interiores en 3D – El Mostrador

Google ya ofrece mapas del mundo pero el gigante de internet tiene planes más ambiciosos para su siguiente tecnología basada en la ubicación.La división de Alphabet Inc. quiere trazar un mapa digital del interior de los edificios en 3-D hasta una resolución de unas pocas pulgadas, y de paso ganar dinero con la realidad virtual a través de un proyecto llamado Tango.

Fuente: Google va más allá de los mapas: mostrará interiores en 3D – El Mostrador


Mary Lou Jensen, la “superingeniera” que dejó Facebook para “curar con tecnología” – El Mostrador

Mary Lou Jepsen, una de las principales figuras detrás de las ambiciones de realidad virtual de Facebook y exejecutiva de Google, dejó las grandes de la informática para dedicarse a la medicina.

Fuente: Mary Lou Jensen, la “superingeniera” que dejó Facebook para “curar con tecnología” – El Mostrador


The CIA Is Investing in Firms That Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos

SOFT ROBOTS THAT can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

Fuente: The CIA Is Investing in Firms That Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos


I’ve Seen the Greatest A.I. Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Twitter – The New Yorker

Put a consciousness with the verbal ability of a tween and the mental age of a blastocyst into a toxic environment like Twitter and it’s bound to go Nazi.

Fuente: I’ve Seen the Greatest A.I. Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Twitter – The New Yorker


Donald Trump and Tay, the ultimate Twitter bots — FT.com

Microsoft is planning to put an array of chatbots and intelligent digital assistants at the heart of its future technology, its CEO said on Wednesday, even as the company was forced once again to shut down its Twitter bot, Tay, after it went rogue for a second time. A week earlier Tay was taken offline for posting outrageous racist comments and sexist abuse. But Microsoft is not alone in exploring bot-space.

Fuente: Donald Trump and Tay, the ultimate Twitter bots — FT.com


Virtual reality porn is coming but will mainstream success follow? | Technology | The Guardian

Pornographic content could be as instrumental in the VR wars as it was in the VHS age – or it could be a sideshow for weirdos

Fuente: Virtual reality porn is coming but will mainstream success follow? | Technology | The Guardian


Karim the AI delivers psychological support to Syrian refugees | Technology | The Guardian

More than 1 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the start of the conflict and as many as one-fifth of them may be suffering from mental health disorders, according to the World Health Organisation.But Lebanon’s mental health services are mostly private and the needs of refugees – who may have lost loved ones, their home, livelihood and community – are mostly going unmet.Hoping to support the efforts of overworked psychologists in the region, the Silicon Valley startup X2AI has created an artificially intelligent chatbot called Karim that can have personalised text message conversations in Arabic to help people with their emotional problems.

Fuente: Karim the AI delivers psychological support to Syrian refugees | Technology | The Guardian


Spy tactics can spot consumer trends — FT.com

Israel’s military spies are skilled at sifting through large amounts of information — emails, phone calls, location data — to find the proverbial needle in a haystack: a suspicious event or anomalous pattern that could be the warning of a security threat.So it is no surprise that many companies ask Israeli start-ups for help in data analysis. The start-ups, often founded by former military intelligence officers, are using the methods of crunching data deployed in spycraft to help commercial clients. These might range from businesses tracking customer behaviour to financial institutions trying to root out online fraud.

Fuente: Spy tactics can spot consumer trends — FT.com


Revealed: how facial recognition has invaded shops – and your privacy | Cities | The Guardian

Retailers are increasingly using facial recognition technology to track your face. With an estimated 59% of UK fashion retailers doing it, is the anonymity of cities an outdated idea?

Fuente: Revealed: how facial recognition has invaded shops – and your privacy | Cities | The Guardian


Virtual reality is waiting for its killer app – FT.com

So, there I was shuffling along a rickety plank spanning two tower blocks when the well-meaning Stanford professor urged me to jump. Like a fool, I did so and felt myself plummeting to the ground. I braced for the impact, but there was none.Virtual reality may be great at tricking the senses but it cannot rewrite the laws of physics. I was still standing in the middle of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab with a VR headset strapped to my face.

Fuente: Virtual reality is waiting for its killer app – FT.com


Twitter Says There’s No “Magical Algorithm” to Find Terrorists

Twitter announced on Friday that it has shut down over 125,000 user accounts for promoting violent threats or terrorist acts, mostly having to do with ISIS, in less than a year. At the same time, the company made it clear that there is no automated way of distinguishing between protected speech and what it considers violations of its rules.

Fuente: Twitter Says There’s No “Magical Algorithm” to Find Terrorists


Privacy fears over 'smart' Barbie that can listen to your kids | Technology | The Guardian

Privacy fears over ‘smart’ Barbie that can listen to your kids | Technology | The Guardian.

Hello Barbie toy
 Hello Barbie listens to children using cloud-based voice recognition technology, to understand them and talk back. Photograph: Mattel

A “smart” Barbie doll that can have “conversations” with children should not go on sale, privacy advocates have said.

Billed as the world’s first “interactive doll”, the toy uses voice recognition technology similar to that employed by Apple’s Siri and Google’s Now digital assistants to understand what a child is saying to Barbie and respond.

However, privacy advocates are worried about the use of voice recognition technology that sends recordings of children to third-party companies for processing, potentially revealing his or her intimate thoughts and details.

“If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analysed,” said Professor Angela Campbell of Georgetown University law school.

“In Mattel’s demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children.”


Curatoría Automática: ¡Fuera de mi timeline! | Manzana Mecánica

Curatoría Automática: ¡Fuera de mi timeline! | Manzana Mecánica.

Cuando la noticia de que twitter estaba pensando en implementar algoritmos de recomendación para el timeline de sus usuarios y los comentarios negativos frente a esta medida empezaron a ver la luz, recordé algunos casos recientes en los que se analizaba el rol de la curatoría automática de contenidos.
Las plataformas de contenido utilizan sistemas de recomendación para asegurar que sus usuarios tengan a la mano cosas que les interesen. Es una de las formas más poderosas de asegurar continuidad en el consumo y creación de información.

Desde la sencilla recomendación de noticias similares a las que ya leíste, hasta la creación de shows completos en base a las preferencias más comunes de la audiencia, la recomendación automática es una de las experiencias más comunes en el uso de la Web.

Facebook por ejemplo utiliza las recomendaciones para priorizar noticias y sugerir cosas que te pueden gustar. Ahora, tal y como lo demostró un periodista recientemente, darle me gusta a todo lo que aparece en la pantalla provocará que recibas solamente noticias de entretención ligera (y no me refiero a artículos de Manzana Mecánica como el que estás leyendo, si no que “noticias” del tipo ¿Qué personaje de la película Titanic eres?) .


Google hires leading quantum computing expert – FT.com

Google hires leading quantum computing expert – FT.com.

Google today announced that it is expanding its research around quantum computing and that it has hired UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) John Martinis and his team – one of the most prolific research groups in this area — to work on new quantum processors based on superconducting electronics.

Google has hired one of the world’s leading quantum computing researchers as it ramps up efforts to develop artificial intelligence and vastly increase the processing power of computers.

Physicist John Martinis and his team at the University of California Santa Barbara will join Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, a collaborative project between the technology group, Nasa and the Universities Space Research Association, a non-profit organisation that studies space. The team will form part of an effort “to design and build new quantum information processors based on superconducting electronics”, said Hartmut Neven, Google’s director of engineering, in a blog post.

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It is the latest sign of Google’s bet on the rise of “smart machines”, which it is developing along with a host of experimental projects from drones to self-driving cars.

In January, Google paid £400m for UK start-up DeepMind, whose brain-like “neural network” algorithms can be set loose on huge data-sets and learn in a similar way to the human mind. Its technology is particularly good at calculations based on pattern recognition, such as image searching or looking for the cheapest or best route to a destination.

Google is already working with Nasa to develop applications on a D-Wave quantum computer, the only quantum device that is commercially available, although there is dispute as to the extent to which it is a genuinely “quantum” device.

Developing such technology could help run the sophisticated algorithms that would be required to develop “intelligent” machines, experts say.

Mr Martinis explained the potential reach of quantum technology in a presentation to Google last October. “It’s a physics nightmare . . . We’ve been going at it for 20 years,” he admitted.

Although his team has not yet built a full computer, they have shown how it is theoretically possible to use electrons’ unique ability to exist in two atomic states to vastly increase computing power, because it allows multiple calculations to be run through the system at the same time.

Anders Sandberg, a computational neuroscientist at Oxford university’s Future of Humanity Institute, said quantum technology is likely to be useful for running sophisticated search algorithms for unordered data. Much of what is on the web falls into this category and more is likely to be produced by the rise of connected devices and the “internet of things”.

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Google is showing results from heavy investments in areas beyond search, with notable inroads in the mobile, video and display markets

“The interesting thing about quantum superpositions is that you cannot just do several things at once, but you can tease out patterns in clever ways,” he said. “[Quantum computing] is very cutting edge and we don’t know if it’s going to work out – but there are tantalising hints that it could.

“A lot of artificial intelligence is about searching for patterns and connecting stuff,” he added. “Our brains are using really slow neurons, but using them really well because they’re running in parallel.”

For example, Prof Martinis has said it would take a bank of computers the size of North America running for 10 years and consuming the earth’s entire store of energy every day to figure out all the prime numbers contained in a 2,000-long sequence of binary code. A quantum computer the size of a lecture theatre could do the same calculation in a day.

Mr Sandberg said factoring numbers can be useful for encryption and code-breaking by governments.

But while versions of quantum computers appear to be capable of doing specific, focused applications fast, making them versatile has been a challenge.

“The fact you can have big arguments about whether [the D-Wave] is a quantum computer shows it’s early days,” Mr Sandberg said.

 


Wikipedia boss Lila Tretikov: ‘Glasnost taught me much about freedom of information’ | Technology | The Guardian

Wikipedia boss Lila Tretikov: ‘Glasnost taught me much about freedom of information’ | Technology | The Guardian.

She has taken flak from the online encyclopedia’s hardcore users for being an ‘amateur’, but after 18 years in open source software the 36-year-old is determined to expand the ‘knowledge-building community’l


La agencia Associated Press sustituirá periodistas por robots | Tecnología | EL PAÍS

La agencia Associated Press sustituirá periodistas por robots | Tecnología | EL PAÍS.

Las máquinas se encargarán de noticias automáticas como ofrecer los resultados de las empresas

 

Washington 3 JUL 2014 – 10:59 CEST

 

Un panel electrónico con las cotizaciones de Wall Street. / YUYA SHINO (REUTERS)

La agencia de noticias Associated Press (AP) anunció que este mismo mes automatizará la mayoría de las historias que produce sobre los resultados trimestrales de las empresas, que dejarán
de escribir reporteros y generarán máquinas.

El vicepresidente y director gerente de AP, Lou Ferrara, indicó en un comunicado en la página web de la compañía que la decisión dejará más tiempo libre a los periodistas para cultivar sus fuentes y cubrir temas en profundidad, al tiempo que multiplicará por más de diez el volumen
de información sobre resultados corporativos. “Como todas las compañías de medios, AP está revisando constantemente qué contenido necesita ofrecer a sus clientes y cuál es el mejor uso de sus reporteros”, afirmó Ferrara.

El directivo de la mayor agencia de noticias estadounidense destacó que “durante muchos años” los periodistas de AP han dedicado una gran cantidad de tiempo a generar información sobre los resultados de las empresas, con un volumen que ronda las 300 notas por trimestre.

Pero AP descubrió recientemente, según relató Ferrara, que tecnología de la empresa Automated Insights combinada con datos de la firma Zacks Investment Research permiten generar historias cortas, de entre 150 y 300 palabras, automáticamente en aproximadamente el mismo tiempo que necesitan los periodistas.

“Y en lugar de generar 300 historias manualmente, podemos ofrecer alrededor de 4.400 automáticamente” cada trimestre, dijo el vicepresidente de AP, quien cree que la automatización será parte de muchas industrias, incluida la de medios de comunicación.


Don't believe the science hype – we haven't created true AI yet | Yorick Wilks | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Don’t believe the science hype – we haven’t created true AI yet | Yorick Wilks | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

Despite claims made for the Eugene Goostman software there’s a way to go before chatbots will be able run call centres for us

 

 

A robot sitting at a desk

The winners of Loebner contests ‘are often just very laborious handcrafted systems which have programmed in thousands of possible replies to whatever is said to them’. Photograph: Blutgruppe/Blutgruppe/Corbis

 

At the Royal Society last week Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at Reading University, organised a version of what he called the Turing test – intended to decide if you’re talking to a human or a machine.

Warwick claimed that a program designed by the Amazon software developer Vladimir Veselov had passed the test by convincing 30% of the judges that it was a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy called Eugene Goostman.

This event has mightily stirred up the artificial intelligence research community, with a Guardian comment after Ian Sample’s article on 9 June capturing a typical view: “The problem is that this is a PR stunt for a mediocre university, not a useful measure.” Other comments recalled the history of Warwick’s eye-catching gestures – he once had a chip implanted in his arm so as to communicate directly with his partner.

So has some AI milestone been reached? Is Eugene Goostman the best conversation program ever created? Turing argued in 1950 that if a computer could be substituted into the old guessing game of “Am I getting notes from a man or a woman?” and no one noticed, then we should just admit computers could think and stop worrying. But Turing was not proposing a test of any sort, and in his setup, the question “Is this a machine or a person?” is never asked, because one thinks one is answering a question about sex. Once you pose the human-or-machine question directly, things start to get very odd.

The long-running Loebner competition has a similar format except that judges are not asked to say whether each candidate is human, but to rate them numerically. At the end, the scores are added and the performances are ranked. So far the “people” have always come out on top. The Loebner competition is not what Turing had in mind either, but it is at least systematic: it avoids the explicit question “Is this a machine?” with its ranking system, and publishes the transcripts of the best systems on its website, which Warwick declined to do.

All this makes it rather unlikely that Goostman was any better than the refined and experienced chatbots in the Loebner competitions; indeed, it seems Goostman competed there in 2012 and didn’t do well. A defect of the Loebner setup is that there is no methodology for comparing the winner one year with any other, so it’s not clear if the winners are getting better.

A team I led at the University of Sheffield won in 1997, and my hunch is that the winners now are much the same in terms of quality, but we cannot know for sure. What we can know is that there is no reason to believe Goostman is better than the Loebner winners.