LUCERNE Swit. (AP) A common Norwegian house rat used as a laboratory specimen by the Sandoz Pharmaceuticals research department has apparently passed the so called "Turing Test" for artificial intelligence. The rat had been the subject of controversial gene re-sequencing experi-ments designed to greatly enhance its memory and mental aptitude. The goal of the project was to teach animals to communicate via a simple system of symbols. Named Pyotr by the Sandoz lab assistants, the rat was the unquestioned star of the genetic trials, outperforming all the other lab specimens which included parrots, dogs and chimpanzees.
The lab workers were alerted to a problem two weeks ago when unauthorized Internet messages were being logged during off-shift night time hours. No evidence of any break-ins could be discovered and Sandoz security was at a loss to explain the discrepancy. The amazing truth was discovered by lab assistant Lotte Seyringe when she returned to the lab late one night to retrieve some articles. "Pyotr was perched on a terminal's keyboard with all four paws, madly dancing on the keys faster than I can type," she revealed.
Though all the cages at the lab had been fitted with special locks, Pyotr had discerned the method of opening his door. He apparently learned to use the lab's computer by watching humans and used this knowledge to log onto several web sites. For the past two weeks, he has been carrying on convers-ations with several women on the Hot Chix Chatroom web site. Using the alias Radis Norviegkis, he developed an ongoing conversational relationship with Marylou Bembler, a freshman at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Pyotr had even used the ID photo of a handsome male lab worker to mislead Bembler.
"We were well aware of Pyotr's special abilities," declared Dr. Maximo Del Ozoni, head of the research project. "However we had no indication of anything like this. He must have been disguising his abilities for a long time," admitted Ozoni. "For Pyotr to be able to carry on a conversation without anyone suspecting that he wasn't human is clear evidence of artificially produced intelligence," Dr. Ozoni announced delightedly.
When informed about the truth of the affair, Bembler refused to discuss the nature of her conversations with Pyotr. Classmates characterized her as typical though shy and introverted with few close friends. (SEE TURING C4)