In 1950 Alan Turing described what became later known as the Turing Test. The Turing Test, which is a test of one aspect of Artificial Intelligence, involved a person sitting in front of a terminal exchanging in a typed conversation with another party. If the person could not determine if the other party was a person or a bit of software, then that software would have passed the Turing Test.
Of course almost everyone one the web has by now participated in a Reverse Turing Test where a computer tries to distinguish between a human and a computer (the T in CAPTCHA stands for Turing). But AI researchers over the years have failed to create software that can pass the standard Turning Test.
Who knew that the whole approach has been wrong? Instead of grad students and professors toiling away in major research institutions, the problem might instead be solved by Russian hackers looking to rip people off? If this doesn’t describe a piece of software that passes the Turing test, it’s closer than anything else I have heard of so far. Graft is apparent for more effective than research grants.
There are three things makes this really interesting. First, the environment (chat rooms) exactly matches the Teletype mechanism Turing first proposed. Second, the “test subjects” don’t actually know they are participating in a test. Ironically the software developers don’t either. Third, it’s illegal. So if the developers have actually cracked the Turning Test, they will never receive any recognition for it.