AI beats humans in reading

AI beats humans in reading
Alibaba Group, the Chinese based e-commerce company, has developed an Artificial intelligence software that has performed better than humans in a reading comprehension test..

Alibaba Group, the Chinese based e-commerce company, has developed an Artificial intelligence software that has performed better than humans in a reading comprehension test.

This is the first time a machine has been able to outperform human intelligence in this regard.

Background

Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that can otherwise be performed only through human intelligence. This includes but is not limited to visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Presently, most of the technology focused on Artificial Intelligence is properly known as narrow AI or weak AI. Self-driving cars and Siri are some of the platforms that employ AI (narrow AI). Researchers and experts now believe that humanity is now on the path to creating General Artificial Intelligence (AGI). According to scientists, AGI would be able to outperform humans in nearly every single cognitive task.

Elon Musk has often spoken about the potent risks inherent in AI. He is a South African-born Canadian American business magnate, investor and inventor. He is best known as the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX. He stated in 2017 that Artificial Intelligence would be the catalyst for the next world war. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that which ever country is able to become pioneers in Artificial Intelligence, will be able to become the most powerful nation in the world.

One of the most successful programmes that have been created with regards to AI is Google’s AlphaGo. In 2016, the AlphaGo program beat a human professional Go player Lee Sedol for the first time. Go is a strategic board game that is considered even more difficult than Chess. In 2017, Google’s DeepMind achieved yet another landmark in the field. The team has created a program that has for the first time taught itself from scratch how to defeat human players in the complex Chinese game of Go.

In 2017, research firm PwC conducted a study that revealed that countries across the world will begin losing jobs to automation. The study noted that in the next 15 years, 40 percent of jobs in the U.S. may be vulnerable to automation and robots. In the same time frame, 35% of jobs in Germany could be replaced by automation and 30% of jobs in UK will become vulnerable. In Japan, 21% of jobs will become vulnerable to robots and automation.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate founded in 1999.

Analysis

Alibaba Group, the Chinese based e-commerce company, has developed an Artificial intelligence software that has performed better than humans in a reading comprehension test.

The software in question was made to take the Stanford Question Answering Dataset. It devised by artificial intelligence experts at Stanford to measure computers' growing reading abilities. It was the software developed by Alibaba that was able to beat human scores.

Si Luo, a chief scientist of natural language processing at Alibaba’s research arm said, “We believe the underlying technology can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials, and online response to inquiries from patients, freeing up human efforts in an unprecedented way.”

According to the company, the software was able to score, Alibaba's deep neural network model scored 82.44 on the test on January 11th, 2018. The best human score so far is 82.304. Not to be bested, only 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," said Andrew Pickup, a spokesman for Microsoft. "However, the real benefit of AI is when it is used in harmony with humans," he added.

In a tweet, Pranav Rajpurkar, one of the Stanford researchers who developed the reading test, called Alibaba's feat "a great start to 2018" for artificial intelligence. Facebook (FB), Tencent (TCEHY) and Samsung (SSNLF) have also previously submitted AI models to the Stanford project.

Assessment

Our assessment is that AliBaba and Microsoft’s breakthrough in this field has deep repercussions for human labor especially those working in the BPO industry (Business Process Outsourcing). Customer care service employment depends on reading and comprehension abilities of those working in those fields. A computer that can now understand and comprehend better will certainly be a threat. This is going to significantly affect countries like India that has a huge workforce employed in the BPO sector. 

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