Alibaba and Microsoft AI beat human scores on Stanford reading test

Neural networks edged past human scores on the measure of machine reading.

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20 years ago, IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in a game of chess and the practice of pitting human against computer continues to this day. Google's AI was the first to beat a Go champion a couple of years back (and it continues to teach itself how to play other games, too). Now Bloomberg reports that Alibaba and Microsoft have both developed AI that scores better than humans on a Stanford University reading test.

The Chinese online commerce company's deep neural network was the first to score higher than a human on the reading test. The 100,000-question quiz is considered to be the most authoritative measures of machine reading, according to Bloomberg. The highest humans have score on the measure is 82.304. Alibaba's Institute of Data Science of Technologies scored 82.44. The following day, Microsoft's own AI scored 82.650 on the same test.

Ultimately, the idea is to help AI systems process large amounts of written data to more accurately respond to human questions. "That means objective questions such as 'what causes rain' can now be answered with high accuracy by machines," Alibaba chief scientist Luo Si said in a statement. "The technology underneath can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials and online responses to medical inquiries from patients, decreasing the need for human input in an unprecedented way."