The Loebner Prize pits artificial intelligence-driven chatbots against humans to gauge if we've blurred that line between machine intelligence and man — but yet again this year, nobody was fooled. Started in 1990 by Dr. Hugh Loebner, the yearly competition offers a $100,000 bounty and a gold medal to the creator of any machine that can pass its ranked version of the Turing Test. Four judges sit at computer terminals and have a text-based back and forth with both a human being and one of the chatbots in competition. If the judges can't determine which is machine and which is man, the creator of the chatbot wins the big prize. Dr. Alan Turing proposed that the best measure of a machine's intelligence was its ability to mimic humans back in the 1950s, but despite that long-standing challenge, nobody has been able to create a computer to meet it. One of the judges this year even complained it only took three or four lines of conversation to determine who was the digital imposter.

Despite the larger failure, Loebner Prize participants are still ranked in terms of overall believability, with Bruce Wilcox's Rosette winning the $4,000 "most human-like" bronze award. An engineer at Telltale Games, creators of Tales of Monkey Island, Wilcox also took home the 2010 medal for the similarly-named Suzette. Spending a few moments with Rosette reveals just how far away we truly are from actual machine intelligence: her responses quickly veer off-topic, and it only takes a bit of missed context to destroy the illusion of taking to a real person. With this type of computer/human interaction now emerging in consumer electronics, however, the hunt to cross that threshold of mimicry should only become more intense in coming years. Check the source below to spend some time with Rosette for yourself.

Image: Victory of the People (Flickr)