In this era when technology continues to get advanced and better, it may pleasantly surprise many to note that machines are getting closer to humans and they are performing duties that no one hitherto would be possible. In other words, machines and gadgets are being invented that can imitate the human functioning, for example in the human brain, eyes and so forth.
But perhaps one of the latest inventions, that is a clear manifestation of humans getting even closer to humans, is a machine that has been made and which can imitate the human voice. The machine was invented as part of a completion, for the Artificial Conversational Entities, known as the ACE. Several machines that could imitate the human voice were entered for the competition and the winner was really awesome. During the competition, judges selected some of the five best machines and competed for five minutes, to get the best. This comprised if a five minute kind of interrogation, where there were unrestricted conversations with the machines, which tried to pass of as human beings. So real did these machines sound, that one would not tell whether one was a machine, or a human being.
However, the competition organized borrowed from original one performed by Alan Turin in the year 1950. Alan came up with his seminal paper, where he observed that if during the test for the conversation by the machine, a machine is found to be very similar to the human voice, then the machine could be said to be thinking and as such possess intelligence. But in this recent competition, any machine that was able to fool over 30% of the human interrogators was deemed to have passed the test. It is also worth noting that any of the machine that was identified by the interrogators as having passed, did have conversational ability score of around 80 – 90%.
The fact that this competition attracted many entries from all over means that it was indeed a thorough competition, where only the best were considered. The winner of the competition, dubbed as the Loebner Prize, pocketed a cool US$ 3000 in cash. It was observed that if a machine could score an average of 80 or 90% in terms of sounding like the human voice, then this was an indication of greater things to come. This is was a milestone in the field of communication and means that in the near future, we could have machines that communicate with us in a language we understand, without sounding like they’re really machines. Such technology is expected to be incorporated in the making of robots. In other words, robots could not only be able to follow orders given to them, they will also be able to talk and respond to human communications.
Researchers are now working on software that will help them design a perfect and functional robotic hand. This is being done by using artificial intelligence, coupled with advanced software, which means that the robotic hand will have the ability to learn new things and perfect them.