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The Best Computer Now Smart as a 4-Year-Old (Sort of)

The Best Computer Now Smart as a 4-Year-Old (Sort of) post image
Artificial intelligence machine takes a standard IQ test for young children (that’s not it in the picture).

How clever is the cleverest computer currently available in human terms? Say you give it an intelligence test designed for humans and see how it does?

Researchers at the University of Chicago at Illinois have done just that to the latest artificial intelligence machine.

They administered the standard psychological tests to the AI, rather unromantically named ‘ConceptNet 4’. The machine did well on the tests of vocabulary and of similarities in meaning. It was right up there with a pretty smart 4-year-old.

That’s as you’d expect since this AI is built around a network of concepts. By using short phrases and words it has been taught the connections between things and their functions and meanings.

For example it knows that one of the uses of a thing called a ‘saxophone’ is for something else called ‘jazz’. And it knows that people want to do something called ‘learning’ because they are ‘motivated by’ something called ‘wanting to know’. And so on…

Where the AI falls down—and is way behind a normal 4-year-old—is in basic common sense. That’s why the computer did much worse when it tried to answer the ‘why’ questions.

As children we learned so much about the world by exploring:

“All of us know a huge number of things. As babies, we crawled around and yanked on things and learned that things fall. We yanked on other things and learned that dogs and cats don’t appreciate having their tails pulled. Life is a rich learning environment.” (Professor Bob Sloan in the press release.)

The computer, though, has to be told everything; it can’t work much out for itself:

“A computer may know the temperature at which water freezes, but we know that ice is cold.”

That’s why:

“We’re still very far from programs with common sense–AI that can answer comprehension questions with the skill of a child of 8”

The truth is that while the latest generation of AIs are making great leaps forward, if a real four-year-old had these scores, we’d think there was something seriously wrong with it.

So, little chance the machines will become our overlords any time soon.

Image credit: Brian Duffy