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Watson's Creator Wants to Teach AI a New Trick: Common Sense

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robot sitting in chair holding laptop computer

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David Ferrucci, the man who built IBM's Jeopardy!-playing machine, Watson, is leading an effort to help artificial intelligence systems learn how the world works.


Ferrucci and his company, Elemental Cognition, hope to fix a huge blind spot in modern AI by teaching machines to acquire and apply everyday knowledge that lets humans communicate, reason, and navigate their surroundings. The common-sense reasoning used so often by humans eludes AI.

Ernest Davis, a professor at NYU, says common sense is essential for advancing everything from language understanding to robotics. Machines need to master fundamental concepts like time, causality, and social interaction in order to demonstrate real intelligence, he says. "This is the large obstacle that the current approaches are having serious trouble with."

Fundamental breakthroughs may be needed for machines to learn common sense as effortlessly as humans, Davis says.

From Wired
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