Posts tagged ‘Artificial Intelligence’

November 7, 2014

Artificial intelligence software is getting better at taking tests

by Grace

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior

Artificial intelligence in Japan is getting closer to entering college. AI software scored higher on the English section of Japan’s standardized college entrance test than the average Japanese high school senior, its developers said.

The software is getting better.

The software, known as To-Robo, almost doubled its score on a multiple choice test from its performance a year ago, indicating progress toward a goal set by its developers to eventually pass the entrance exam for Tokyo University, Japan’s most prestigious college.

I hear those exams are not easy.

T0-Robo answered multiple choice questions, and it “still needs to improve at understanding more complex exchanges and comprehending the emotions of speakers”.


Jun Hongon, “Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior”, Wall Street Journal, Nov 4, 2014.

June 3, 2014

What will happen when computers can handle most white-collar jobs?

by Grace

Computers may soon be able to do white-collar jobs meant for college graduates.

Noriko Arai of the Todai Robot Project explains how the future is shaping up.

… a machine should be capable, with appropriate programming, of doing many — perhaps most — jobs now done by university graduates.

With the development of artificial intelligence, computers are starting to crack human skills like information summarization and language processing….

How would college graduates be affected by this technological evolution?

There is a significant danger, Ms. Arai says, that the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence, if not well managed, could lead to a radical restructuring of economic activity and the job market, outpacing the ability of social and education systems to adjust.

Intelligent machines could be used to replace expensive human resources, potentially undermining the economic value of much vocational education, Ms. Arai said.

“Educational investment will not be attractive to those without unique skills,” she said. Graduates, she noted, need to earn a return on their investment in training: “But instead they will lose jobs, replaced by information simulation. They will stay uneducated.”

In such a scenario, high-salary jobs would remain for those equipped with problem-solving skills, she predicted. But many common tasks now done by college graduates might vanish.

Mostly good or mostly bad?

…  A recent study published by the Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, at Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School, predicted that nearly half of all jobs in the United States could be replaced by computers over the next two decades.

Some researchers disagree. Kazumasa Oguro, professor of economics at Hosei University in Tokyo, argues that smart machines should increase employment. “Most economists believe in the principle of comparative advantage,” he said. “Smart machines would help create 20 percent new white-collar jobs because they expand the economy. That’s comparative advantage.”

Others are less sanguine. Noriyuki Yanagawa, professor of economics at Tokyo University, says that Japan, with its large service sector, is particularly vulnerable.

“A.I. will change the labor demand drastically and quickly,” he said. “For many workers, adjusting to the drastic change will be extremely difficult.”

Smart machines will give companies “the opportunity to automate many tasks, redesign jobs, and do things never before possible even with the best human work forces,” according to a report this year by the business consulting firm McKinsey.

Many business leaders dismiss a takeover by machines as “futurist fantasy”.

… Gartner’s 2013 chief executive survey, published in April, found that 60 percent of executives surveyed dismissed as “‘futurist fantasy” the possibility that smart machines could displace many white-collar employees within 15 years.

“Most business and thought leaders underestimate the potential of smart machines to take over millions of middle-class jobs in the coming decades,” Kenneth Brant, research director at Gartner, told a conference in October: “Job destruction will happen at a faster pace, with machine-driven job elimination overwhelming the market’s ability to create valuable new ones.”

Will these changes create a future of leisure and “self-realization”?

Optimists say this could lead to the ultimate elimination of work — an “Athens without the slaves” — and a possible boom for less vocational-style education. Mr. Brant’s hope is that such disruption might lead to a system where individuals are paid a citizen stipend and be free for education and self-realization.

“This optimistic scenario I call Homo Ludens, or ‘Man, the Player,’ because maybe we will not be the smartest thing on the planet after all,” he said. “Maybe our destiny is to create the smartest thing on the planet and use it to follow a course of self-actualization.”

It sounds too good to be true.  Although the concept of a future as an “Athens without the slaves” has its appeal, it sounds too fantastic to believe.  I wonder what will happen to the segment of the population that lacks the highest level of problem-solving skills.


Michael Fitzpatrick, “Computers Jump to the Head of the Class”, New York Times, December 29, 2013.

July 29, 2013

With the rise of robo-reporters, what is the outlook for jobs in journalism?

by Grace

As more news stories are written using algorithms that compile data and format it for publication, what is the outlook for careers in journalism?  Or for many other writing jobs?

While journalism students have a right to be concerned, this particular technological disruption could be a positive step for those reporters willing to step up to the challenge.

… the use of algorithms on routine news tasks frees up professional reporters to make phone calls, do actual interviews, or dig through sophisticated reports and complex data, instead of compiling basic information such as dates, times and locations.

“It lightens the load for everybody involved,” he said.

Reporters currently involved in writing basic, mundane news stories may find themselves out of work.  Overall, the total number of workers in this industry may decline, perhaps partly offset by the rising number of computer scientists needed to create these programs.

Narrative Science, a pioneer in robo-writing, recently announced plans to expand into other business areas.  The idea is to turn data into insight.

As an example, think of customized end-of-day portfolio summaries instantly produced for upper management and investors, audiences that may want to see the same figures in different formats. Furthermore, rapidly generated texts can be produced at scale, such as individual portfolio summaries for firms with a long client list. Other examples included investment research, in one case producing 35,000 reports per month for a company that previously struggled to manually produce 10. The takeaway: “If you have data, we can tell a story.”

Narrative Science uses Quill, an “artificial intelligence engine” that “discovers” ideas.

Businesses Need Insight, Not Just Numbers

Quill gives you the power to move beyond the numbers and leverage true insight. Quill is an artificial intelligence engine that generates, evaluates and gives voice to ideas as it discovers them in the data.

Let Quill Do the Writing for You

Receive Data
Quill imports your data and builds an appropriate narrative structure to meet the goals of your audience.

Create Story
Using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms, Quill extracts and organizes key facts and insights and transforms them into stories, at scale.

Deliver Insight
Quill uses data to answer important questions, provide advice and deliver powerful insight in a precise, clear narrative.

According to the BLS, the job outlook for reporters, writers, and editors is average or below average.

Related:  For a journalism job, consider majoring in economics or math (Cost of College)

%d bloggers like this: