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Loebner tires of Loebner Prize, discusses future of thinking machines

TechRepublic have published an interview with Hugh Loebner, originator of the Loebner Prize competition, in which he discusses the prize and the future of thinking machines.

2012 Loebner Prize to be held at Bletchley Park & streamed online

The 2012 Loebner Prize competition (based on the Turing test) will be held at Bletchley Park. A Bletchley Park Trust press release explains the competition procedure:

The judges at the competition will conduct conversations with the four finalist chatbots and with some human surrogates, and will then rank all their conversation partners from most humanlike to least humanlike. The chatbot with the highest overall ranking wins the prize [a bronze medal and $7,000].

The competition will take place on 15 May 2012, starting at 1:00pm. Visitors to the Park will be able to follow the conversations on screens in the Mansion and these will also be streamed live online for the first time.

Source: Bletchley Park To Host Loebner Prize Competition.

Pricing bot interactions

Carlos Bueno writes about a book “Computer Game Bot Turing Test”. This, he says, is:

one of over 100,000 “books” “written” by a Markov chain running over random Wikipedia articles, bundled up and sold online for a ridiculous price. The publisher, Betascript, is notorious for this kind of thing.

He writes that the pricing bots on Amazon Marketplace have got hold of this book and are “fight epic price wars” over it.

So with “Turing Test” we have a delightful futuristic absurdity: a computer program, pretending to be human, hawking a book about computers pretending to be human, while other computer programs pretend to have used copies of it. A book that was never actually written, much less printed and read.

He then talks about his own book (Lauren Ipsum; a children’s story about computer science) and how he saw pricing bots fighting over this. The book is print-on-demand, so a bot claiming to have a used copy could simply buy a new copy and resell it for a profit. Then the bots started to undercut the retail price! Finally, the Amazon pricing bot put his book on sale at 28% discount (and Amazon swallows the difference).

My reaction to this algorithmic whipsawing has settled down to a kind of helpless bemusement… After all, I no longer have a choice. The price is now determined by the complex interaction of several independent computer programs, most of which don’t actually have a copy to sell.

Read the whole story: How Bots Seized Control of My Pricing Strategy.