Microsoft Says That AI Is Stupid

May 7, 2016

I know there is a difference among:

  • What senior managers believe about their minions’ innovations
  • What marketers say about the technology the engineer wizards are crafting in the innovation microwave
  • What “real” journalists angling for a job with some tailwind write
  • What the reality of an innovation is, right now.

But these differences are essentially irrelevant. We are in the era of IBM Watson, Facebook-Google investing in smart software, and big universities doing cartwheels for research which raised nary en eyebrow 18 months ago.

Navigate to “Microsoft Research Chief: AI Is Still Too Stupid to Wipe Us Out (and Will Be for Decades).” I am okay with the notion that smart software is becoming more important. From my vantage point in rural Kentucky, I am aware of the marketing money available to those who would shill smart software. I know about the cash lust of venture outfits who are in search of the next big thing. I am aware that smart software works reasonably well when applied to advertising and Amazon-style recommendations.

I find the use of the word “stupid” interesting. I noted this passage which quotes a Microsoft guru in the artificial intelligence stuff:

“Yes, deep learning has achieved human-level performance in object recognition but what does that mean? It means the machine makes about the same number of errors as the human. “The reason the machine is as good as the human at this is because it can distinguish between 157 varieties of mushroom, whereas it makes all kinds of stupid mistakes that humans wouldn’t make.”

Why comment? Microsoft Tay made evident some flaws. Perhaps IBM Watson avoids public demonstrations like Tay to avoid making weaknesses vivid? Facebook and Google are angling to reduce costs and generate revenue. AI is one path to explore. But “stupid”? Interesting word.

Stephen E Arnold, May 7,  2016


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