Computers have always been so quick at calculating mathematical problems that people inevitably looked at computers as nothing more than electronic brains. As computers grew in power, a lot of people naturally assumed it'd only be a matter of time before computers could become just as smart as human beings. To study how to make computers smart, computer scientists have created a special field — artificial intelligence, or AI.
One mathematician, Alan Turing, even proposed a test for measuring when a computer's calculating ability could be considered a form of intelligence. This test, known as the Turing Test, consisted of hiding a computer and a human being in a locked room. A second human being, acting as the interrogator, could type questions to both the computer and the human without knowing which was which. If the computer could consistently respond in a way that the human interrogator couldn't tell whether he was chatting with a computer or a human, the Turing Test claimed the computer could be considered intelligent. (No one suggested the Turing Test might really prove that the human interrogator could just be a moron.)
In 1990, Hugh Loebner, Ph.D., proposed a contest to determine the most human-like conversational programs. This contest, known as the Loebner Prize (
www.loebner.net/Prizef/loebner-prize.html), is held annually, although at the time of this writing, no computer program has successfully passed the Turing Test.
The main goal ...