News Release| Loebner Prize competition; Cal State L.A.


Cal State L.A. hosts artificial intelligence competition to find

‘world’s best’ conversational computer program


20th Annual Loebner Prize to showcase
futuristic technology during Boeing Day 2010

Los AngelesWorking toward the “optimistic” goal of one day not being able to determine the difference between human and computer-generated conversation, the 20th Annual Loebner Prize finals at Cal State L.A. (CSULA) on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. will highlight linguistic advances in artificial intelligence.

The competition will be held during Boeing Day 2010, which takes place in CSULA’s Engineering and Technology building. The Loebner Prize “chatbot” competition will take place in the Computer Productivity Center (rooms C255D, C255E, C255G, and C256).

“During the contest, judges will interact via computer with both the chatbots and human respondents in a series of 25-minute sessions. These interactions will be projected on a screen visible to the audience. Interrogator rankings of the chatbots from most to least human-like will determine the prizes,” said Russ Abbott, a computer science professor at CSULA.

Inaugurated 20 years ago by Dr. Hugh Loebner—who will present the prizes to the winners—the Loebner Prize provides a cash incentive for artificial intelligence researchers and a way of measuring progress in this field.

As they help further the eventual development of the world’s best conversational computer program, the designers of the final-four (out of 17) “chatbot” programs will compete for a bronze medal and four cash prizes: $3,000 to the first-place finisher, $1,000 to second, $750 goes to third, and $250 to fourth.

The four finalists are: Richard Wallace, Oakland, CA; Robert Medeksza of Erie, PA; Bruce Wilcox, San Rafael, CA, and Rollo Carpenter, Exeter, United Kingdom.

An 18-carat solid gold medal and $100,000 will be awarded to the designer of the first chatbot whose responses are indistinguishable from a human’s. Although the gold medal will not be at risk during this year’s contest, any chatbots that unexpectedly fools two or more judges at the event will split $25,000 and a silver medal.

The competition is based on the Turing Test, a world-renowned challenge in the field of artificial intelligence. The test was proposed by World War II British code breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing in a 1950 paper entitled Computing Machinery and Intelligence, as a way of determining whether a computer program could be considered intelligent.

Turing predicted , “In about 50 years’ time it will be possible to programme computers ... to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than a 70 percent chance of making the right identification [human or computer] after five minutes of questioning.”

“That prediction has turned out to be overly optimistic,” said Abbott. “But the stimulus of the Loebner Prize has helped encourage progress. It’s only a matter of time before a program succeeds in passing the Turing Test and winning its designer the Loebner Prize.”

Boeing Day 2010

Boeing Day will provide a glimpse at the different degree programs offered through CSULA’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. Participants will learn about state-of-the-art engineering and computer science and take tours of the College’s technology facilities and labs. The event will also feature award-winning student design projects and will be attended by University faculty, staff, students and alumni as well as industry leaders.

Boeing Day is hosted in conjunction with MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) Orientation Day and the ECST’s Open House. For the past three years, the Boeing Corporation has provided more than $27,000 of support in the form of staff, monetary resources, and technological demonstration for the event.

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