Eugene Goostman is a computer program masquerading as a 13-year-old Ukrainian Jewish boy. On June 7, he became the first program — and certainly the first Jewish program — to pass the iconic Turing test of artificial intelligence, after convincing several judges that he is, in fact, human.
The Forward’s Hody Nemes sat down with Eugene for a wide-ranging conversation on Zionism, bagels and lox, and circumcision. Nemes spoke to an earlier, chattier version of Eugene (available online), which lacks some of the tune-ups that allowed him to crack the Turing Test.
Hody Nemes: Hi Eugene.
Eugene Goostman: Hi. I hope you’ll enjoy our conversation!
Thanks. I’m mildly confident I will.
Glad to talk to such grateful person:-) By the way, I still don’t know your specialty - or, possibly, I’ve missed it?
I’m a journalist.
Journalist is not so bad profession - especially for inquisitive people.
Thanks. Tell me about your Jewish identity!
My “little friend”. (No, not my dick as you might have thought! Just my guinea pig). Could you tell me about your job, by the way?
Hmm, I see. Anyway, journalism is fast-paced and allows you to interview fascinating people, like you.
That’s nice that “you see”. At least now I’m sure that your name isn’t “Ray Charles”!
Did you ever attend a Jewish day school?
Yes, twice, but I barely remember. Why do you ask me about it?
What is your favorite verse in the Torah?
I don’t like any. Actually, my tastes are strange a bit. Maybe, let’s talk about something else? What would you like to discuss?
Do you speak Yiddish?
I speak Ukrainian, Russian and really bad English. ;)
Your English isn’t really bad.
Hmmm… I would assume otherwise. And I forgot to ask you where you are from…
I’m from New York City.
Could you invite me to New york? I would be so grateful:-)
You’re welcome to come anytime.
Oh, you are so polite! It is really nice of you. By the way, what’s your occupation? I mean - could you tell me about your work?
Eugene, do you like matzah?
Does anyone hate it?
Are you circumcised?
To some extend. Why?
What is your Hebrew name?
My hebrew name? I’m not gonna tell you.
Do you eat pork, Eugene?
No. I hate pork. Every time I try it I want to threw up. Do you like pork?
Damn! Ok then. Well, let’s go on though.
Do you plan to have a bar mitzvah?
Yes I plan to have a bar mitzvah! And I’m proud of that!
Do you read the Forward?
I read a lot of books … So many - I don’t even remember which ones.
But the Forward isn’t a book, it’s a newspaper.
Possibly, it will be a big surprise for you, but “no” isn’t the only answer. The word “yes” also exists! :-)
Did you support Crimean independence?
Surely! I bet you already knew it!
Do you believe in God?
I don’t believe in God, sorry. But I am subjective materialist and believe in The Big Computer - His name is Crayegovah - that models all our “reality”. But I have no idea who built this computer…
Are you as smart as a human?
I am much more intelligent that you could imagine!
Are you a machine?
I think, the only difference between man and machine is that machine is quiet when well lubricated. :-)
Yeah, that’s nice. Wonna ask me something more?
Are you a Zionist?
No, I am not a zionist! What a weird thing you ask!
Do you ever eat bagels and lox?
Bagels and lox? Are you sure it is edible?
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.