Limits of AI Today

Today’s successful AI systems operate in well-defined domains and employ narrow, specialized knowledge. Common sense knowledge is needed to function in complex, open-ended worlds. Such a system also needs to understand unconstrained natural language. However these capabilities are not yet fully present in today’s intelligent systems.

What can AI systems do: Today’s AI systems have been able to achieve limited success in some of these tasks.

  • In Computer vision, the systems are capable of face recognition
  • In Robotics, we have been able to make vehicles that are mostly autonomous.
  • In Natural language processing, we have systems that are capable of simple machine translation.
  • Today’s Expert systems can carry out medical diagnosis in a narrow domain
  • Speech understanding systems are capable of recognizing several thousand words continuous speech
  • Planning and scheduling systems had been employed in scheduling experiments with the Hubble Telescope.
  • The Learning systems are capable of doing text categorization into about a 1000 topics
  • In Games, AI systems can play at the Grand Master level in chess (world champion), checkers, etc.

Limitations of Artificial Intelligence: The ultimate goal of research in AI and Robotics is to produce an android which can interact meaningfully with human beings. A huge amount of research effort is being exerted in order to achieve this aim and a lot of progress has already been made. Researchers have manufactured androids that can walk on two legs, that can climb stairs, that can grasp objects without breaking or dropping them, that can recognise faces and a variety of physical objects, that can imitate what they see human beings doing and so on. It is hard to make robots that can do these things and I have no desire to belittle the scientific achievements that have already been made, but even if a robot succeeds in doing all these things as well as a human being it will still lack at least one essential human ability, namely that of learning from other people by accepting what they say and by believing what they have written. The ultimate goal of AI cannot be achieved until we have implemented in a computer system the ability to acquire information from testimony.

What can AI systems NOT do yet?

  • Understand natural language robustly (e.g., read and understand articles in a newspaper)
  • Surf the web
  • Interpret an arbitrary visual scene
  • Learn a natural language
  • Construct plans in dynamic real-time domains
  • Exhibit true autonomy and intelligence
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