Computers Can't Hold Conversation

Context, oblique cultural allusions, metaphors and so on are par for the course in human-to-human conversation, but entirely beyond machines, says a Turing Test participant.

Computers' ability to store and sort raw data is already beyond what many believed would ever be possible, but how can it be, then, that computers remain incapable of holding a natural conversation? The subtlety of human language, it turns out, is still a major hurdle to computer advancement: "With all due respect to Watson, it's extremely difficult for computers to participate in conversations that aren't restricted to a standardized format (i.e., a game of 'Jeopardy!'). They have more information than we do, but they don't improvise well."

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

Videos
  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
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Juice is terrible for children. Why do we keep giving it to them?

A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.

Pixabay user Stocksnap
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Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you. 

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Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
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