Common sense AI is goal of new research project

Common sense AI is goal of new research project

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Common sense, says the institute, represents one of the most fundamental and difficult problems for AI. The announcement was made by Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, and founder of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), who pledged to spend $125 million over three years toward funding AI2’s existing projects and the new Project Alexandria.

“When I founded AI2, I wanted to expand the capabilities of artificial intelligence through high-impact research,” said Allen. “Early in AI research, there was a great deal of focus on common sense, but that work stalled. AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field.”

Despite many dramatic advancements in AI in the past decade, it is still not capable of unstructured problem-solving or managing unanticipated situations.

“This is an extremely complicated challenge,” says Allen. “If we want AI to approach human abilities and have the broadest possible impact in research, medicine and business, we need to fundamentally advance AI’s common sense abilities.”

Project Alexandria – named after the ancient library in Alexandria, Egypt, the fabled repository of texts in the 3rd century BCE – will integrate knowledge developed from other AI2 projects, including Project Aristo (machine reading and reasoning), Project Euclid (natural language and understanding), and Project Plato (computer vision) to create a new, unified and extensive knowledge source. This knowledge can then be used as a foundation for future AI systems to build upon.

“Despite the recent AI successes, common sense—which is trivially easy for people – is remarkably difficult for AI,” says Oren Etzioni, CEO of AI2. “No AI system currently deployed can reliably answer a broad range of simple questions such as: ‘If I put my socks in a drawer, will they still be in there tomorrow?’ or ‘How can you tell if a milk carton is full?’ For example, when AlphaGo beat the number one Go player in the world in 2016, the program did not know that Go is a board game.”

Adding common sense to AI, says the institute, will require years of research and many checkpoints along the way. According to AI2, major steps in the coming years will include introducing standard measurements for the common sense abilities of an AI system; developing novel crowd sourcing methods to acquire common sense knowledge from people at an unprecedented scale; and developing applications that utilize common sense to boost performance for a broad range of practical AI challenges, from machine reading to robotic vision.

Founded by Allen in 2014, AI2’s singular focus is on conducting high-impact research and engineering in the field of artificial intelligence for the “common good.”

AI2 Project Alexandria

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