Why Scientists are Training AI to Take Standardized Tests

Researchers hope training machines to the test will allow for advances in imbuing software with basic common sense.

Computer software has proven itself to be a lot better than humans at a whole lot of things: search queries, indexing, calculations, etc. But common sense is not currently one of those things. That's why computer scientists are toying with a bunch of neat new strategies for instilling in AI the main cognitive ability we possess that it doesn't -- the ability to learn.


For example, a team of researchers out of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle is training their AI program, named Aristo, to take the New York state fourth grade standard science exams. Oren Etzioni, the Allen Institute's CEO, argues that standardized tests offer a strong benchmark for tracking the progress of machine learning.

To understand what he means, let's revert quickly to standardized tests. They get a bad rap around here and deservedly so, as they're not a great way to guide our school children toward creative thinking or a lifelong love of learning. Luckily for computer scientists, AI isn't like your typical fourth grader.

Microsoft Director of Search Stefan Weitz explains that the future of machine learning consists of teaching artificial intelligence to identify patterns.

There's a reason some kids are better at taking tests than others -- and it's not all brains. It's a matter of finding the most efficient way to interpret questions and deliver the best possible answers. Take, for example, your garden variety multiple-choice question. If you don't already know the solution, the best strategy is to winnow down the choices until you've found the one that's most likely correct. In many ways it's a matter of common sense, which is why Etzioni is so keen on making sure Aristo passes the exam.

Why is common sense the current golden fleece for computer scientists? The Siri program on your phone might be able to interpret your voice and deliver action, but it's not applying rational thought to assist you. It's incapable of figuring things out for itself or of interpreting requests in ways it wasn't initially programmed to do so. The same applies for plenty of computer systems more advanced and important than personal assistant software. Imagine how useful effective and replicable machine learning could be if scientists can make major progress in teaching AI to teach itself.

The future of AI and machine learning is going to be a lot more impressive than a simple search engine. The only reason we're not there yet is because teaching software how to reason is a lot more difficult than assigning it mindless busy work. If the folks at Allen and others like them prove successful in their endeavors, the future of AI may not be so far into the future after all.

Read more at MIT Technology Review.

Wanna meet Aristo and see it in action: Check it out at the Allen Institute website.

Image credit: Vergeles_Andrey / Getty iStock

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less