A chatbot is a computer program that's intended to fool us into thinking that it's human. Historically, this has been a tricky thing to do, and for the last 20 years there's been a $100,000 prize and gold medal waiting for the first computer program that can carry on a conversation indistinguishably from a human. Arguably (very arguably), this could also be the first computer program to demonstrate an artificial intelligence.
Cornell's Creative Machines Lab decided to see what would happen if they put two chatbots face to virtual face and got them started talking to one another. Things didn't go quite as crazy as might have been expected, but a fair amount of pointless argument, passive aggression, and random hilarity did ensue:
The 2011 Loebner Prize Competition in Artificial Intelligence takes place on October 19th, and if any of the entrant programs manages to fool two or more judges comparing two or more humans into thinking that it's a human, the program will win $25,000 and a silver medal. The final $100,000 prize will go to a program that includes a completely convincing audiovisual component as well, and that too may be closer than you think.