Search for most life-like robot next week

A PRESTIGIOUS artificial intelligence (AI) contest to create the most life-like robot is coming to Londonderry on Saturday week (September 14).
Magee College.Magee College.
Magee College.

The International Loebner Prize 2013 Contest in AI will be hosted at Magee.

According to the organisers the University of Exeter’s Computer Science Department will run a live webcast of Loebner Prize 2013 and interested people from around the world will be able to follow the conversations the judges have as they happen.

It will be filmed by local film company 360 Production as part of a documentary on AI for their Google YouTube Channel.

New York philanthropist Dr Hugh Loebner who is putting up 4000 dollars for first prize in his eponymous contest to find the most humanoid robot says Londonderry is an ideal host for this year’s competition.

The contest, which is sponsored by New York philanthropist, Dr Hugh Loebner, takes Alan Turing’s postulation, ‘if a computer could think, how could we tell?’ and drives it to its extreme.

Turing, a mathematician who worked on breaking the Enigma code in WW2, developed the theoretical foundation of computing science, and gives his name to the Turing Test, which challenges robotics experts to create the most humanoid machine.

Loebner 2013 will coincide with CultureTECH 2013 and it will precede an International Workshop on ‘Waiting for Artificial Intelligence...’ also being held at the Magee Campus on Sunday, September 15, 2013.

Professor Paul Mc Kevitt of the Computer Science Research Institute (CSRI) at Magee, said: “Hugh Loebner’s choice of Ulster for this competition has not been by chance. “Ulster’s CSRI has had an association with the field of AI research for many years, with much of the research in Computer Science on three campuses focusing on this topic. “Professor John McCarthy from Stanford University (USA), who named this field at the Dartmouth, USA conference in 1956 spoke at the Irish Artificial Intelligence and ognitive Science Conference (AICS-1997, Magee).

“Professor Noel Sharkey, Professor of AI and Robotics at The University of Sheffield, previously awarded an Honorary Doctorate (D.Sc.) by the University of Ulster (2006) and Visiting Professorship to the CSRI, is a member of the Loebner Prize 2013 international expert judging panel.

“The panel also includes Professor Emeritus Mike McTear, University of Ulster, with expertise in spoken dialogue systems and natural language processing and Dr. Roger Schank, Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University & CEO, Socratic Arts (Florida, USA), one of the founders of the fields of AI and Cognitive Science.”

Dr Hugh Loebner said: “Ulster’s research strengths in AI and new developments in the use of AI combined with creative arts and technologies in serious computer games, online learning and emotion modelling makes it an ideal host for Loebner Prize 2013.”

“The CultureTECH 2013 international digital media and creativity Festival and the City of Culture 2013 celebration provide an appropriate backdrop for staging the Loebner Prize.”

Dr Loebner explained that the Turing Test tested skills in language understanding and production which is as much central to the arts as it is to science.

He concluded: “Hence, The Turing Test by its very nature is interdisciplinary and tests multiple facets of human intelligence in the spirit of Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci.”

Alan Turing was a mathematician who helped break the Enigma code during WW2 and went on to play a key role developing early computers and heralding the digital age.

He asked, ‘Can machines think?’ and also, ‘if a computer could think, how could we tell?’ which IS THE basis of the Turing Test to find the most life-like robot.

Turing was subject of a biography by George Dyson, ‘Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, ’ that tells the story of how in the 1940s a small group began realising Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine.