Sometimes the Veneer of Intelligence Is Not Enough

By Doug Lenat

We all chafe against the brittleness of SIRI, Alexa, Google…every day. They’re so incredibly useful and yet so incredibly…well, stupid, at the same time. For instance:

The Cyc Knowledge Base
The Cyc Knowledge Base

Me to Google: How tall was the President of the United States when Donald Trump was born?

Google to me: 37 million hits, none of which (okay, I didn’t really read through all of them) tell me the answer. Almost all of them tell me that the Donald was born on June 14, 1946.

Me to Google: How tall was the President of the United States on June 14, 1946?

Google to me: only 6 million hits this time, but again it doesn’t appear that any contain the answer.

Me to Google: Who was the President of the United States on June 14, 1946?

Google to me: 1.4 million hits, and this time most of them are about Donald Trump but at least some of them contain sentences that reveal that the President then was Harry S. Truman.

Me to Google: How tall was Harry S. Truman?

Google to me: Now the hits (and info box) tell me the answer millions of times over: 5’ 6”.

Of course, using Google and other search engines day after day, decade after decade, has trained me by now so I would never ask that original question to begin with, How tall was the President of the United States when Donald Trump was born? I know better, and I’d put together a little plan to ask a sequence of queries much like I ended up doing.

Read the full story at Cognitive World (no longer available).

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