„The Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence ( AI ) is the first formal instantiation of a Turing Test. The test is named after Alan Turing the brilliant British mathematician. Among his many accomplishments was basic research in computing science. In 1950, […] Alan Turing asked the question „Can a Machine Think?“ He answered in the affirmative, but a central question was: „If a computer could think, how could we tell?“ Turing’s suggestion was, that if the responses from the computer were indistinguishable from that of a human, the computer could be said to be thinking. […]
In 1990 Hugh Loebner agreed with The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies to underwrite a contest designed to implement the Turing Test.“
This summer I was involved as a preliminary phase judge (Loebner Prize 2008) and enjoyed testing some of the systems. I am not entirely sure about the value of the test itself, but I am sure that these kinds of contests help improving interactiveness of software systems.