Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

The 2019 Loebner Prize winner has been announced! While once again there is no recipient of the grand prize, a feat reserved for the AI that passes the Turing Test, the annual event nonetheless inspires and excites those who await singularity. The Loebner prize is offered up every year to an AI program that can beat the Turing test, a measurement of the ability for AI to mimic human thinking and response. Every year, contestants enter their AI designed to replicate human behavior in typed conversation, visual, and auditory interaction.

In the world of AI, the quest to meet the high hurdle of passing the Turing test is historic. To date, no-one has claimed the $100,000 grand prize for meeting all 3 requirements or even 2 of the $25,000 prizes for meeting any one requirement.

This Year’s Winner

Each year since 1991, a smaller, $2,000 - $4,000 prize has been awarded to the AI program that comes closest to beating any one criteria of the Turing test. This year will be the first time that one person has won a Loebner prize for a 5th time and the first time it has been won 4 consecutive times by the same person with the same program.

This year, that prize belongs to Steve Worswick and his increasingly humanlike Mitsuku chatbot.

Meet Mitsuku

Mitsuku is an incredibly human-like chatbot that emulates the personality of an 18-year old woman in Northern England. Anyone with a web connection can freely chat with Mitsuku and ask her anything at all and she will respond. She (it?) does a good job emulating human responses, recognizing modern colloquialisms, computer-abbreviations like LOL, and current events. Ask about her favorite football team, and she’ll ‘happily’ tell you about Leeds United. In an ironic twist, ‘Terminator’ is her favorite movie.

While Mitsuku has been improving year over year, there are still recognizable differences between the chatbot and a human on the other end of the text. Mitsuku has a hard time recognizing common misspellings or transposed letters, and conversations have a finite endpoint even if the person interacting with ‘her’ tries to continue the conversation.

The Quest Continues

Mitsuku did its best to fool the 2019 Loebner Prize judges, even despite the program’s willingness to respond to a specific query in which she will admit to being AI. And, interestingly, this year there was a twist; the test was integrated into a public event on AI, allowing over 200 children to interact with the AI chatbots. A total of 17 bots from 8 countries were featured at the event.

Still, none of the AI entered into the contest was successful at fooling humans in all three categories. So ends another year without a grand prize or runner-up Loebner prize winner. However, all is not lost, and in fact, far from it. Each year that goes by, the contestants bring the world closer to an AI system becoming so advanced that it passes the Turing Test. We’ll just have to wait and see…what will happen in 2020!

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 October 2019
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Deborah Huyett

Deborah Huyett is a professional freelance writer with experience working for a variety of industries. She enjoys and works with all types of writing, and she has been published or ghostwritten for blogs, newsletters, web pages, and books. A former English teacher, Deborah’s passion for writing has always been grounded in the mechanics while appreciating the art of writing. She approaches projects as creative challenges, matching voice and tone for any audience.

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