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.

[ Loebner Prize ] via [ Cornell CCSL ]

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Will AI Steal Submarines’ Stealth?

Better detection will make the oceans transparent—and perhaps doom mutually assured destruction

11 min read
A photo of a submarine in the water under a partly cloudy sky.

The Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Virginia cruises through the Mediterranean in 2010. Back then, it could effectively disappear just by diving.

U.S. Navy

Submarines are valued primarily for their ability to hide. The assurance that submarines would likely survive the first missile strike in a nuclear war and thus be able to respond by launching missiles in a second strike is key to the strategy of deterrence known as mutually assured destruction. Any new technology that might render the oceans effectively transparent, making it trivial to spot lurking submarines, could thus undermine the peace of the world. For nearly a century, naval engineers have striven to develop ever-faster, ever-quieter submarines. But they have worked just as hard at advancing a wide array of radar, sonar, and other technologies designed to detect, target, and eliminate enemy submarines.

The balance seemed to turn with the emergence of nuclear-powered submarines in the early 1960s. In a 2015 study for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, Bryan Clark, a naval specialist now at the Hudson Institute, noted that the ability of these boats to remain submerged for long periods of time made them “nearly impossible to find with radar and active sonar.” But even these stealthy submarines produce subtle, very-low-frequency noises that can be picked up from far away by networks of acoustic hydrophone arrays mounted to the seafloor.

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