CELEBRITY tweeters Stephen Fry and Sarah Brown have taken part in a schools Twitter contest that seeks to help children hone their IT and ethical skills.
Mr Fry and Mrs Brown, whose identities were kept secret, contributed specially composed tweets to the Twittest contest, which attracted hundreds of pupils from across Scotland. Participants correctly identified the source of about half of the celebrity tweets.
Around 40% of the QI host’s tweets were judged to have been written by a chatbot
Pupils had to guess whether tweets had been written by celebrities, teachers, fellow contestants, or had been generated by computer programmes known as chatbots. Contestants also had to guess whether the authors were trying to hide their real identities.
Contestants mistook Mr Fry for a chatbot about 40% of the time, while pupils thought about one-third of Mrs Brown’s tweets were from a teacher or a chatbot.
The competition, organised by the University of Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, was created to mark the 100th birthday of Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing, who is widely regarded as the forefather of modern computing.
The format is based on the Turing Test, which the scientist devised to show whether a computer can show sufficient intelligence to be mistaken for a human.
Those pupils who were best at spotting fakes or who contributed the best tweets – real and fake – will be awarded prizes at the LateLab T100 Twittest event at the University of Edinburgh Inspace gallery tonight.
In a video message recorded for the event, Mr Fry said: “I congratulate you all on taking part. Alan Turing is one of my great heroes. His mathematical brilliance extended in to the field of thinking about machines and whether or not they could think. Maybe one day machines will be like us – but I think that day is a long way off.”