New Artificial Intelligence Program Outperforms Humans at Reading Test

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Alibaba (BABA) and Microsoft (MSFT) have built an artificial intelligence program that beat humans on a Stanford University reading comprehension test, in January 11, 2018.

Artificial intelligence experts devised the test to measure the growing reading abilities of computers. This has been the first time that a computer has outperformed a human on such a test and Alibaba’s software was the first to beat the human score.

Luo Si, the chief scientist of natural language processing at the Chinese company’s AI research group, said this was a significant milestone, however, several people could be losing their jobs to machines, in the near future.

The technology “can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials and online responses to medical inquiries from patients, decreasing the need for human input in an unprecedented way,” Si said in a statement.

This technology is already being used on Singles Day—the world’s biggest shopping bonanza, to enable computers to answer a large number of customer service questions.

The Stanford test generates questions about a set of Wikipedia articles. For example, a human or AI program reads a passage about the history of British TV show, Doctor Who, further answering questions such as “What is Doctor Who’s space ship called?”

Alibaba’s deep neural network model scored 82.44 on the test on January 11, narrowly beating the 82.304 scored by the human participants. A day later, Microsoft’s AI software also beat the human score, with a result of 82.650.

“These kinds of tests are certainly useful benchmarks for how far along the AI journey we may be. However, the real benefit of AI is when it is used in harmony with humans,” said Andrew Pickup, a spokesman for Microsoft.

Increasing integration of advanced technologies such as smart park assist in vehicles, virtual reality in retail, and increasing dependence on internet and broadband connection such as, 2G, 3G, and 4G are increasing the demand for virtual assistants, as per Intelligent Virtual Assistant Market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

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