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Surprising Science

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.”

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