Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagWinograd Schema Challenge

Robot prints on a typewriter

The Great American Novel Will Not be Written by a Computer

It takes more than statistical genius to understand words and create works of art

I’ve written before about how computer algorithms are like Nigel Richards, the New Zealander who has won multiple French-language Scrabble tournaments even though he does not understand the words he is spelling. Computers can similarly manipulate words in many useful ways — e.g., spellchecking, searching, alphabetizing — without any understanding of the words they are manipulating. To know what words mean, they would have to understand the world we live in. They don’t. One example is their struggles with the Winograd schema challenge — recognizing what it refers to in a sentence. Another example is the inability to answer simple questions like, “Is it safe to walk downstairs backwards if I close my eyes?” A third type of example is the brittleness of language translation programs. Yet another…

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Dozens of Drones Swarm in the Cloudy Sky.

Robert J. Marks on Killer Robots

Robert J. Marks discusses AI and the military, autonomous weapons, and his book The Case for Killer Robots with hosts Robert D. Atkinson and Jackie Whisman from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Dr. Marks’ book The Case for Killer Robots is available at Amazon.com in print, audio and Kindle formats. For a limited time, the Bradley Center is…

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Close-up view of 'one way' road sign with blurred building in the background. Manhattan, New York City, United States of America.

Flubbed Headlines: New Challenge For AI Common Sense

I propose a new challenge: Teach computers to correctly understand the headline “Students Cook and Serve Grandparents”

Many high tech companies, including Microsoft, are headquartered near the coast in the state of Washington. The executives must have been terrified when they read the headline: “Tuna Biting Off Washington Coast” But wait. Tuna are not chomping on Seattle beaches. The headline, meant to convey good news for fishermen, can be read that way of course. We use common sense to identify the intended meaning and the incorrect interpretation makes us smile. But AI has trouble doing this because it lacks common sense. To solve the problem of AI’s lack of common sense, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen (1953–2018) poured big bucks into Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “To make real progress in A.I., we have to overcome the…