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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
German chatty bot is 'most human'
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online technology reporter

(L-R)Vladimir Veselov, Rollo Carpenter, Terminal C & Jabberwock, Fred Roberts
Cultural differences may have helped the Loebner Prize winners
A German computer program has chatted its way to first place in the Loebner Prize for human-like communication.

British hope, Jabberwacky, came joint third in the competition to find the computer with the most human-like chat.

Eight finalists from across the world tried to convince a panel of judges they were human.

The event is based on the Turing Test, which suggests computers could be seen as intelligent if their chat was indistinguishable from those of humans.


During the competition, judges chatted via computers to humans and finalists without knowing who was who, and gave them "humanness ratings" between 0 to 5.

Europe's chatbot representatives had scored very highly in this year's contest, said the competition hosts.

1st: Jabberwock (Juergen Pirner, Germany)
2nd: Elbot (Fred Roberts, Germany)
3rd=: Jabberwacky (Rollo Carpenter, Britain)
3rd=: Eugene Goostmann (Vladimir Veselov, USA)
4th: Lucy (Saskia van der Elst, Mexico)
5th: Markbot (Mark Connell, USA)
ALICE (Rich Wallace, USA)
Gabber (Peter Neuendorffer, USA)
"The results came out with a strong European bias," said Lynne Hamill from the Digital World research centre at the University of Surrey.

"It maybe had something to do with the fact it was mostly Europeans judging it. So it looks like cultural differences may have had an effect."

Jabberwock - not to be confused with Britain's Jabberwacky - was named the "most human" program, winning its German creator Juergen Pirner the bronze medal.

In second place was Elbot, created by Fred Roberts, also based in Germany.

The coveted gold medal and Grand Prize of $100,000 (60,000), which goes to the bot that completely fools the judges, remained unclaimed.

Next year's contest will be held in New York and hosted by Dr Hugh Loebner himself, who started the prize in 1990.

Although "thrilled" with the competition, he is keen to make it more than about passing the Turing Test, rather than finding the best chatbot.

Jabber the joker

Jabberwacky's creator Rollo Carpenter told BBC News Online he thinks the way his bot works is the most promising for future AI.

"Jabberwacky is a learning artificial intelligence, reliant upon its environmental stimulus, the chat of thousands of users on the web," he said.

"Making sense of the madness is not an easy task, yet I believe that the learning AI approach is the only way the Turing Test will be passed."

If Jabberwacky did not quite pass the Turing Test this time round, it certainly made the judges laugh.

"At one point, in the one judge conversation we saw, Jabberwacky decided to act as a cat, meowing and purring," said Mr Carpenter.

"It also asked 'Why did the chicken cross the road?' The judge said 'I don't know', to which Jabberwacky answered, 'It was stapled to the elephant!'"

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