n+1: The Stupidity of Computers →

July 19, 2012 |

Fantastic essay by David Auerbach on the current state and technical challenges of the human search for artificial intelligence:

Computers are near-omnipotent cauldrons of processing power, but they’re also stupid. They are the undisputed chess champions of the world, but they can’t understand a simple English conversation. IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeated two top Jeopardy! players last year, but for the clue “What grasshoppers eat,” Watson answered: “Kosher.” For all the data he could access within a fraction of a second—one of the greatest corpuses ever assembled—Watson looked awfully dumb.

Quite long, but this is a must-read piece, perfect for your Instapaper queue.

Mild Spoiler: The conclusion may seem depressing to some, but personally I’m quite relieved. It looks like we won’t have to worry about Skynet becoming self-aware anytime soon.