What is the Eugene Goostman Chatbot?

Last Updated on November 23, 2020 by Sean B

The Eugene Goostman chatbot is one of the first chatbots that has been able to pass the Turing Test. The Turing Test was designed by English mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing and measures the ability of a robot to mimic the intelligence of human beings.

The concept of chatbots and artificial intelligence might look like something out of the future or adopted from Sci-Fi, but, as a matter of fact, this concept is as old as computers themselves. However, the latest chatbots are becoming more and more human-like, and the fine boundary between artificial intelligence and human intelligence has already started to blur.

Eugene Goostman was developed in Russia in 2001 through the joint efforts of three programmers, Russian-born Vladimir Veselov, Ukrainian-born Eugene Demchenko, and Russian-born Sergey Ulasen. The chatbot has the personality of a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy and was deliberately equipped with poor grammar and a deficient vocabulary so that it could better mimic the communication skills of a 13-year old boy and teach patience to the people who interacted with it.

The Personality of the Eugene Goostman Chatbot

The 13-year-old Eugene Goostman chatbot belongs to Odessa, Ukraine. He has a pet guinea pig, whom he loves a lot, and his father is a gynecologist. According to the developers, they have selected the bot to have the personality of a 13-year-old, because this is an age where a person knows some things but not everything. In 2014, the developers gave Eugene an overhaul, and its dialogue controller was updated to help it converse in a more natural tone. Here is a small sample of Scott Aaronson’s chat with Eugene Goostman:

Scott: Which is bigger, a shoebox or Mount Everest?
Eugene: I can’t make a choice right now. I should think it out later. And I forgot to ask you where you are from…
Scott: How many legs does a camel have?
Eugene: Something between 2 and 4. Maybe, three? :-))) By the way, I still don’t know your specialty – or, possibly, I’ve missed it?
Scott: How many legs does a millipede have?
Eugene: Just two, but Chernobyl mutants may have up to five. I know you are supposed to trick me.
Scott: No, I need to know that you’re not a chatbot. Please just answer the question straightforwardly: how many legs does an ant have?
Eugene: Something between 2 and 4. Maybe three? :-))) Oh, what a fruitful conversation 😉

Kevin Warwick organized a large Turing Test competition in 2014 at which Eugene Goostman is said to have passed.

Awards and Competitions

The Eugene Goostman chatbot has been in a number of competitions and contests, including the Loebner Prize competitions, where it secured second place in 2001. In 2005, Eugene was second to Jabberwacky in the contest, and in 2008, it was just behind Elbot, which won the contest.

On June 23, 2012, a huge Turing Test competition was arranged in the honor of the 100th birthday of the test’s creator, Alan Turing. This test consisted of 5 chatbots, 25 humans for disguise, and 30 judges. This particular Turing Test is considered to be the single largest Turing Test ever, and Eugene was able to trick 29% of the judges into believing that it was a human.

The number 29% might not look to be significant, but according to a paper published by Alan Turing himself, named “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” the chatbots of the early 21st
century were predicted to be able to trick 30% of the judges.

On June 7, 2014, in the honor of the 60th death anniversary of Alan Turing, another Turing Test was held at the Royal Society by Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading. In this test, the Eugene Goostman chatbot passed after securing 33% of the votes from the 30 judges who were presiding the competition. In the test, every one of the judges conversed with one of the five competing bots and one human simultaneously. A total of 300 conversations were conducted. According to the organizer of this Turing Test, Kevin Warwick, this made Eugene Goostman the first chatbot ever to pass the Turing Test.

In a press release that followed, Warwick established the point that other bots did pass the test earlier, but those tests were not eligible to be called Turing Test. He said that the true Turing test does not work on pre-decided questions and things and needs to be a natural conversation.

Where’s Eugene Goostman Now?

If you want to talk to Eugene that might no longer be possible. It was taken down by the developers on October 25, 2016. The most probable reason for it being taken down was that it was a very basic chatbot and was at most capable of nothing more than a simple conversation. The fact that the chatbot did pass the Turing Test was simply not enough to keep it up and running. Mainly because more and more new chatbots are popping out with every passing day, and every new one has better properties than the one before it, making the field highly competitive.

The Future

The Eugene Goostman chatbot is one of the many chatbots that have been taken down, but it does not mean that it has no impact on the chatbot industry. The natural language processing (NLP) techniques used by Eugene Goostman have evolved and are being used in the chatbots we see today. Eugene Goostman might not be available right now, and it might probably never return, but it did pave the way for the development of the chatbot industry, which is developing at such a phase that it would soon be nearly impossible to tell the machine from humans.

In Summary

The Eugene Goostman chatbot was an Artificial Intelligence chatbot developed by a trio of Russian programmers and is widely regarded to be the first chatbot ever to pass the Turing Test, the touchstone in the chatbot industry. The chatbot, created in 2001, was available till October 2016 for a chat. After that, it was taken down to be improved and introduced again, but unfortunately, that never happened. And the bot remains inactive to this day. However, it has been an important stepping-stone in the advancement of AI and chatbots and the lessons learned from this venture helped shape the destiny of AI forever.

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