Alibaba and Microsoft AIs Beat Humans at Reading Test

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10:38 AM HKT, Tue January 16, 2018

Today in things computer brains can do better than ours: read. That’s right — two separate natural-language processing artificial intelligence models developed independently by Alibaba and Microsoft outperformed humans on a Stanford University reading comprehension test, it was announced yesterday. Bloomberg reports:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. put its deep neural network model through its paces last week, asking the AI to provide exact answers to more than 100,000 questions comprising a quiz that’s considered one of the world’s most authoritative machine-reading gauges. The model developed by Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science of Technologies scored 82.44, edging past the 82.304 that rival humans achieved.

An AI developed by Microsoft recently “achieved a similar feat, scoring 82.650 on the same test,” according to Bloomberg.

Speaking about these recent breakthroughs, CNN quotes Microsoft spokesperson Andrew Pickup as saying, “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.”

For his part, Alibaba founder Jack Ma is bullish on AI’s ability to play nice with humans. In stark contrast to figures like Tesla founder Elon Musk, who has publicly expressed grave concerns about AI’s potential treat to mankind, Ma spoke optimistically about artificial intelligence at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum last year: “Human beings should have self-confidence. Human beings have wisdom — machine does not have wisdom.”

See more of Ma’s remarks on the subject in this video by CNN Money:

Cover image: AI model on display at Alibaba’s 2017 Cloud Conference

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