Thursday 5 September 2013

AI is better at history than maths or physics

This is counter-intuitive at first sight - though not so surprising when you think about it.
Can an AI Get Into the University of Tokyo?

[...] At Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), in Tokyo, a research team is trying to create an artificial intelligence program that has enough smarts to pass Japan’s most rigorous entrance exams. The AI will start by taking the standardized test administered to all secondary school students; once it masters that test, it will move on to the more difficult University of Tokyo exam.
[...] Even in the standardized test, each subject poses distinct challenges. The math portion, where an AI might be expected to excel, is made more complicated because the questions are presented as word problems, which the Todai Robot must translate into equations that it can solve. Physics is difficult too, because it presumes that the robot understands the rules of the universe. When equipped with a set of rules, however, the AI can simulate the scenario posed in a given question—for example, the trajectory of a missile—to arrive at the correct answer.

Surprisingly, the Todai Robot turned out to be a star student in history, where its natural-language-processing skills really shine. Miyao, who leads the work on language processing, explains that the AI can find the answers to questions by searching a database that includes textbooks and Wikipedia.

IEEE Spectrum September 2013

Presumably this only works for the most straightforward of history questions. One could imagine probing questions that couldn't be answered from textbooks or wikipedia.

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