I have just returned from the Loebner contest and can vouch for the above results. No program managed to fool any of the judges (adults or children) but Bruce Wilcox’s program was placed at rank 1 by each of the 4 adult judges.
In a curious turn of events, Bruce’s program came last when the children (aged about 14 or 15) judged it. The two Pandorabots (Zoe and Tutor) came joint first.
There was definitely a difference in the way the adults talked to the bot than the children. I watched both contests and the adults were testing the bots with questions such as “Would it hurt if I stabbed you with a towel?”, “Which is bigger, a small mountain or a large tooth?”, “How many syllables in the word ‘balloon?” and so on. The children were generally talking to the machine as if it were a friend with questions such as, “What music do you like?”, “Have you been to London” and so on.
I hope the Junior contest continues, as it showed a marked difference in the style of conversation and was a lot more natural. Anybody who begins a conversation by saying, “What is the 4th letter of the word ‘pancake’” to another human would surely not have a conversation partner for long.
Another great contest though and to meet one of my teenage idols (Prof. Noel Sharkey from the TV show Robot Wars) was amazing. Well done Hugh and all at Exeter Univeristy for putting on a great contest.