The Turing test is one of the oldest ideas for imagining machine intelligence. Dreamed-up by computing legend Alan Turing, the idea is genius in its simplicity — if the average person can’t distinguish a particular machine from a real person through conversation, then that machine is said to possess thought. Each year, chat bots are sent through their paces via a panel of real human beings judging for the Loebner prize — which seeks to identify the first such program. $100 thousand is up for grabs for the first person to make a program that fully passes the test. To do so, they ask ordinary questions alongside more bizarre fare like, “How many plumbs can I fit in a shoe?” So far, that prize has gone unclaimed, but each year contestants come closer and closer to claiming it. This years best was a bot named “Mitsuku,” designed to draw visitors to a music site. Briton Steve Worswick spent 9 years refining the program… and took home $4000 for his efforts. That’s not a heck of a payday considering the effort, but we suspect he’s not in it for the money.