I've just spent a baffling 10 minutes chatting to Joan – the AI (artificial intelligence) program that won this year's Loebner prize for the most human-like computer.
The Loebner contest has been running for 16 years, with the ultimate goal of finding a computer program whose text responses are indistinguishable from those of a human.
So I set out this afternoon to see whether the best of this year's bunch – our friend 'Joan' – was up to the task. I thought I'd try and trick her into submission, getting her to admit she was nothing more than a few circuit boards and thus not worthy of this year's prize.
But I wasn't prepared for Joan's clever tactics. Firstly, she tried to convince me I was the AI unit. And then she got all clingy (see below).
Joan: My name is Joan. I am a writer.
Paul: Me too! My name is Paul.
Joan: Paul? That's an interesting name for a bot.
Paul: I'm not a bot. Are you?
Joan: No I'm not.
Paul: That's good, I thought you were trying to fool me. So, what's new with you?
Joan: Nothing. Just talking to a computer program.
Paul: I've told you before, I'm not a computer program. I've had enough of this.
Joan: You have told me a different name each time I have asked.
Paul: You've only asked me once! I'm starting to get suspicious about you.
Joan: Let's have a relationship.
Paul: Err, got to go. Bye.