As part of the Alan Turing centenary celebrations, this year's Loebner Prize competition to find the world’s best conversational computer program will be held on 15 May 2012 at Bletchley Park.
In case this doesn't make immediate sense you need to know that Alan Turing, who was born in 1912, is associated with Bletchley Park on account of his work there as at cryptanalyst during World War II, the Loebner Prize competition is based on the Turing Test. It seems fitting that this year's competition should be "in Turing's old office".
Alan Turing proposed the Turing Test in his 1950 paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, as a way of determining whether a computer programme could be said to be intelligent.
Alan Turing depicted on the Loebner Prize Gold Medal
In 1990 the Turing test was elevated into a goal in its own right by the offering of a Gold Medal and a $100,000 prize by Dr Hugh Loebner for the first program to pass the open-ended Turing test. To date, this prize has never been won, but a Bronze Medal is awarded annually for the most convincing chatbot.
The judges at May's competition will conduct conversations with the four finalist chatbots and with some human surrogates, and will then rank all their conversation partners from most humanlike to least humanlike to determine the winners of the prize fund of $7,000 and the Bronze Medal, awarded to the chatbot with the highest overall ranking.
Visitors to the event will be able to follow the conversations on screens and see if they can tell, themselves, whether they are generated by humans or computers. The conversations will also be streamed live to the internet for the first time this year.