Why Can’t My Computer Understand Me?
Hector Levesque thinks his computer is stupidâ€”and that yours is, too. Siri and Googleâ€™s voice searches may be able to understand canned sentences like â€œWhat movies are showing near me at seven oâ€™clock?,â€ but what about questionsâ€”â€œCan an alligator run the hundred-metre hurdles?â€â€”that nobody has heard before? Any ordinary adult can figure that one out. (No. Alligators canâ€™t hurdle.) But if you type the question into Google, you get information about Florida Gators track and field. Other search engines, like Wolfram Alpha, canâ€™t answer the question, either. Watson, the computer system that won â€œJeopardy!,â€ likely wouldnâ€™t do much better.
In a terrific paper just presented at the premier international conference on artificial intelligence, Levesque, a University of Toronto computer scientist who studies these questions, has taken just about everyone in the field of A.I. to task. He argues that his colleagues have forgotten about the â€œintelligenceâ€ part of artificial intelligence.