Friday, November 23, 2007

Loebner 2008 at The University of Reading

On November 20th, Hugh confirmed the hosts for Loebner 2008:

Dr. Hugh Loebner and Professor Kevin Warwick are pleased to announce that the 18th annual Loebner Prize Competition, Loebner Prize 2008, will be held on Oct. 12, 2008 at the University of Reading, Reading, UK.

Professor Warwick will be directing the contest, and all questions regarding the contest, including rules, communications protocols, and judging procedures should be directed to Professor Warwick at

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, UK,

Cybernetics department, at Reading University will host the contest; the venue will be the Palmer Building, Whiteknights campus.

Loebner 2008

Hugh Loebner has "announced" - in an email to the Robitron group, that the 2008 Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence:

"will almost certainly be held at University of Reading, Reading, England on Oct 12 in conjunction with a computer conference to be held there at the same time."

He goes on with:

"There are a few details which Professor Kevin Warwick and Huma will have to decide. Perhaps the members might want to comment, I am sure that Huma and Kevin would be interested in your input.

1. Must the contestants be on site during the contest? I can not operate the judging program and the contestants' programs at the same time. I learned this in 2005. If UoR personnel are available to run the programs, then I assume it will not be necessary for contestants to be on site. If UoR personnel are not available, then entrants, or their reps, will have to be there.

2. Dates for applications, selection, etc. If the contestants do not need to be on site, then it is possible that the selection process for the finals can be part of the conference, perhaps the day before the contest. Again, this is up to Kevin and Huma.

3. I presume that Loebner Prize Protocol will be used. If another protocol is specified by Professor Warwick, that's ok with me, but I will be nothing more than a spectator at the competition.

In any case, the announcement for the 2008 competition with rules, will be made no later than Nov 15, 2007. "

Good old Hugh! (completely ignoring 'behind the scenes' emails between us)

(November 4, 2007)

Loebner 2007 Transcripts

Instructions on how to read the transcripts, are available by selecting the post title.

David Hamill, of Robitron says of Loebner's communications protocol "The log player runs perfectly on my existing Active Perl." - happy Loebner 2007 chatbot conversation-reading!

One commentator said of Loebner 2006 conversations:

"Not very convincing. It was interesting to see how chatty the human was and how taciturn the computer was. Of course there were other give-aways as well. Lot's of non-sequiturs, lots of trick, like asking questions instead of answering or saying something about itself. It doesn't look like there will be a winner very soon if this is the state of the competition. "

So, despite an occasional illusion of 'natural language understanding' from chatbots, there appears little exhibition of conversational intelligence in Loebner contests (platform for Turing's imitation game). Why is this? Because human conversation, while mainly mundane, conveys lots of knowledge acquired through experiencing the world, and bathing in language.

All credit to chatbot designers, their consideration of Turing's notion have found e-commercial success for their artificial conversational entities (ACE based on text-based discourse), such as Ikea's Anna, a virtual customer service agent available 24/7. Robitroners' (network of chatbot creators) may be overlooked, but text-based social communication networks, albeit human-human, proliferate the Internet (facebook, blogs, message boards), providing corpora for analysis.

Unspoken, co-operative communicative protocol is adhered to by humans during conversation, text-based or verbal. Utterances within conversations follow the principle of relevance (Sperber & Wilson, 1986) or follow Grice's (1975) four conversational maxims, for successful communication:

a) say only that which you know to be true - quality
b) say only as much as is necessary - quantity
c) make your utterance relevant to the topic of conversation - relevance
d) be as clear and concise as possible - manner

Comics flout those maxims, for example the fourth, exploiting ambiguity purposefully in order to gain laughs. Take this 'violation' for instance - mentioned by Pinker in one of his books (either 'Language Instinct' or 'How the Mind Works'):

“I shot an elephant in my pyjamas last night, what it was doing there I’ll never know” (Groucho Marx, from movie 'Animal Crackers')

Link to Sperber and Wilson's 1990 paper on Rhetoric and Relevance:

Returning to Turing's imitation game, combination of the successful techniques from the best chatbot systems - case-based reasoning of A.L.I.C.E. with 'captured thoughts' learning ability of Jabberwacky, or with a completely new, non-Eliza, key-word spotting paradigm, or Cycorp, may produce a system that could deceive human interrogators in a Turing Test, after five minutes of questioning, 70% of the time.

Other links:
David Hamill:

Steven Pinker:

Ikea's Anna:





© Huma Shah, October 30, 2007

Loebner 2007 Winner

Congratulations to Robert Medeksza, his system won the 2007 Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence today.

Robert is the creator of Ultra Hal, which can be accessed here:

Noah Duncan's system came second and Rollo Carpenter's third.

Transcripts will be available shortly on the Loebner Prize home page, here:

Below is the full list of Judges / Turing Interrogators for Loebner 2007:

1. Russ Abbott
Professor, Computer Science; California State University, Los Angeles

2. Hartry Field
Silver Professor of Philosophy; New York University

3. Clayton Curtis
Assistant Professor of Psychology; New York University

4. Scott Hutchins
Lecturer, Department of English; Stanford University

Some pictures from Loebner 2007 can be seen on Vladmir Veselov's (runner-up in Loebner 2005) site here:

Sunday October 21, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Through the Eyes of Imran Khan: Islam & America:

Imran Khan discusses the marginalisation of moderate Muslims in Pakistan, and elsewhere, and why this is taking place. Click the title or select this link to a YouTube video:

Imran Khan on Unreported World (Journeyman Pictures)

Thanks to those who emailed agreeing to sign the 'free Imran Khan' petition. Seems Imran was too hot to keep in prison for long!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Imran Khan is free!

Mr Khan's release may therefore be partly because his detention was making waves internationally and causing embarrassment for the government
from BBC (click on post title for link to URL)

GEO TV, a Pakistani channel reported

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have released more than 5,000 lawyers, political workers and rights activists who were arrested under emergency rule, an aide to the law minister said Wednesday.

A total of 5,757 people have been detained since President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3, said Sarwar Hayat, an aide to caretaker law minister Afzal Haider.

"Some 5,134 people have been released up to 7:00 pm (1400 GMT) today," he said.

Of the remaining 623, he said 202 were lawyers while 421 were either students or political workers. "Their release is also under consideration and it is expected that they would be freed in a few days," he added.

Cricket legend Imran Khan was freed from jail earlier Wednesday.


Imran likely to go to PU again (Posted at 2150)
DERA GHAZI KHAN: Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan condemned the emergency rule and demanded the release of all political detainees in the country.

Addressing a press conference soon after being freed from jail here, PTI Chief said he would go to Punjab University once again and address PU students.

On this occasion, he reiterated his demand that the sacked judges should be reinstated.

This piece in Dawn sums up Musharaf well:

“WHEN the nation is about to be declared a failed state,” asks embattled Pervez Musharraf, “tell me whether…so-called democracy is important or efforts to save the country?” After saving the country for the last eight years he obviously wants to do it all over again.

If memory serves, the primary excuse for his first coup in Oct 1999 was the same chestnut: that Pakistan was about to be declared a failed state. As self-indictments go this is quite a devastating one. But in his present saviour-mode Musharraf can’t be expected to have much time for such fine distinctions.

“Have you thought of (resigning)?” asks Sky News. The answer: “But should it be given up now and we will have better Pakistan, a stabler Pakistan and we could have very good elections, without me? Very good, maybe I take that decision, OK?” (No kidding, the very words.)

As the BBC Urdu Service’s Mohammad Hanif observes (in his hilarious “The case of Musharraf and the drunk uncle”), “Musharraf deserves our sympathy. Not because he has been forced to carry out a coup against his own regime, not because his troops are being kidnapped en masse by Pakistani Taliban and then awarded Rs500 for good behaviour, not because he himself has become a prisoner in his Army House and can’t even nip out for coffee and paan as he used to, but because he has utterly lost his grip over grammar.”

From Ayaz Amir's "Freedom Doesn't Come Easy" - full article can be found here:

Friday, November 16, 2007


Click on the title and it takes you to an article in the Independent newspaper, of 15 November: Imran Khan's message to UK: 'My life is in danger'

Mr Khan had emerged after 11 days in hiding, having gone on the run to escape arrest in the aftermath of General Musharraf's declaration of emergency on 3 November. Until he was detained by police yesterday lunchtime, he was the last major political opponent of the general still not arrested or under detention. He was charged under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes penalties that can carry the death sentence or life imprisonment.

Students manhandled Imran Khan in Lahore's Punjab University, apparently, including punching the ex-sportsman, a hero who led Pakistan's cricket team to victory in the 1992 world cup. What kind of 'students' are these? What are they studying???? What is happening to Pakistan???????

I'm collecting signatures and want to include them on letters to Pakistan's Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights and other places. Please post if you would like your name included. This is not just a problem for Pakistan, it is a nuclear power and considered dangerous, see a Newsweek article
COVER STORY: PAKISTAN - Where the Jihad Lives Now Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation.
from here:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Loebner 2007 Prize for Artificial Intelligence

The next Loebner Prize will be held in New York, on Sunday 21st October, 2007.

Included in the Judges is Russ Abbott, Professor of Computer Science, California State University, Los Angeles.

This year there are three contestants:

Rollo Carpenter
Robert Medeksza
Noah Duncan

All three competed in Loebner 2006, results from that Prize are here:

Further news on this, and the venue for Loebner 2008, will be included later.