One Man’s Dream of Fusing A.I. With Common Sense

Steve Lohr in the New York Times:

David Ferrucci, who led the team that built IBM’s famed Watson computer, was elated when it beat the best-ever human “Jeopardy!” players in 2011, in a televised triumph for artificial intelligence.

But Dr. Ferrucci understood Watson’s limitations. The system could mine oceans of text, identify word patterns and predict likely answers at lightning speed. Yet the technology had no semblance of understanding, no human-style common sense, no path of reasoning to explain why it reached a decision.

Eleven years later, despite enormous advances, the most powerful A.I. systems still have those limitations.

Today, Dr. Ferrucci is the chief executive of Elemental Cognition, a start-up that seeks to address A.I.’s shortcomings. “To me, the Watson project was always a small part of a bigger story of where we want to go with A.I.,” he said.

More here.