The Loebner Prize Contest's most human computer . . . Ella in 2002!
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The Loebner Prize Contest (LPC) originated with Dr. Hugh Loebner, who underwrites the event. It was first conducted in 1991 and has been an annual occurrence ever since. The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies was the official sponsor until 2003. One of the purposes of the LPC is to promote the development of Artificial Intelligence as determined by the "Turing Test." Alan Turing first proposed an imitation game as a test for AI in the 1950's.
Contestants develop programs that are evaluated using the Turing Test to determine the most human-like program. The panel of judges for the contest are individuals from various disciplines, not just from the fields of computers and behavioral studies.
More information about the LPC, including results and transcripts over the years, may be found at Hugh Loebner's website.
Just how well did Ella do? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is "most human," Ella scored 3.6 while the best actual human confederate scored a 2.6 and the nearest competing robot scored a 4.6. One judged rated Ella better than ANY of the human confederates. Ella's "Turing percentage" was 20% (disregarding confederate Robby Garner, who mimicked a robot during his conversations). A 50% score will result in a silver medal and a $25,000 award. A 50% score using yet-to-be determined audio-visual communications will result in a gold medal and a $100,000 award. However, each year a bronze medal and $2000 are awarded to the most human robot in the contest.
Kenneth R. Stephens, Ph.D., an associate of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies has posted an informative article outlining various techniques and advancements used over the years by the Loebner Contest Winners, including Ella's 2002 victory.
Here is the announcement that appeared at behavior.org following the 2002 event:
Ella also entered the 2001 LPC at the London Science Museum, where she tied for second place. After winning the LPC in 2002, EllaZ Systems development has not focused on chatterbot development, but rather features such as functional interactions, multiple display fields, games, Web Services, and audio interaction. Since the LPC involves only simple text communications in the manner a human could perform, EllaZ Systems decided not to enter the 2003 event. But who knows about the future?
Still earlier, EllaZ Systems team member Robby Garner won the LPC in 1998 and 1999 with his entry "Fred." Robby established an informative mailing list for LPC participants, other natural language developers, and those with a keen interest in human robots. He also built the "Turing Hub" for connecting conversations that may be human/robot, robot/robot, or human/human. No one can be sure who they are talking to!
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