But as amazing as A.I. is here in 2018, there are still things that it is most assuredly not able to do. While some are more frivolous than others, they all showcase some part of machine intelligence that’s currently lacking. Here are six examples which highlight how much more there is to do.
WRITING FUNNY JOKES
If you’re an A.I. researcher reading this, consider this one the (possibly) low-hanging fruit, tantalizingly within your reach. After all, writing a decent joke should be easy, right? Tell that to every attempt at creating joke-generating A.I.s so far.
Earlier this year, one intrepid coder trained a neural network on more than 43,000 jokes and asked it to invent new jokes. A representative, laughter-defying sample goes: “What do you get when you cross a cow with a rhino? A bungee with a dog.
Whether a joke is funny or not is hugely subjective, but even the biggest bungee enthusiast is unlikely to find too much to chuckle about there. IBM’s Jeopardy!-playing A.I. showed that machines can be made to understand linguistic complexities such as multiple meanings to the same word. But so far not to purposely humorous effect.
So here’s a challenge: Get an A.I. to write and then deliver a 3-minute set list of comedic material that makes 50 percent of its (non-coder) human audience laugh. And no joke stealing allowed either. That means you should probably throw out your Carlos Mencia training data.
WRITING GOOD NOVELS
The rise of companies like Narrative Science and the use of algorithms for sports reporting shows that writing is not out of reach for today’s computers. But we don’t expect to see a machine write a novel yet, regardless of whether that’s chart-topping popular genre fiction or highfalutin literary fiction.
It’s about venturing into problem-solving tasks, and deciding which pieces of information are relevant.
Writing either one requires not just generating text to reveal fragmentary scraps of information, such as the score in a local football game. It means composing a narrative (or willfully subverting that idea) which resonates with readers, and then figuring out the best way to tell it.
There are some fascinating demonstrations of A.I. used to write prose. There are some very silly ones as well. But we’re not holding our breath for either a computational Jane Austen or J.K. Rowling any time soon. If ever.
FORMULATING CREATIVE STRATEGIES
On one level, this simply isn’t true. As Google DeepMind’s game-playing A.I. demonstrated, when it comes to things like playing Atari video games, intelligent agents versed in reinforcement learning can indeed formulate optimal strategies. I’m also of the belief that creativity isn’t an untouchable area for artificial intelligence.
What I’m talking about here, however, is the ability to formulate the kind of creative strategies that, for instance, define a great lawyer’s ability to form unique arguments or a top CEO to lead his or her company in bold new directions.