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Artificial Intelligence: Dumber Than a 5-Year-Old, No Smarter Than a Rat, Researchers Say

robot at united nations meeting

CEOs dreaming of replacing their whiny, vacation-taking, sick-day-using human employees with a sleek fleet of never-complaining robots powered by artificial intelligence are going to be disappointed to learn AI is far behind the evolution of human development.

“The public thinks we know how to do far more than we do now,” Raymond Perrault, a scientist at SRI International, told the New York Times.

Artificial intelligence may be smart enough to learn the game of chess or flip hamburgers in a fast-food restaurant. But when it comes to common sense and decision-making skills, AI is way below the bar compared to adult human beings.

The “AI Index” released by Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SRI International, and other research organizations shows artificial intelligence produced in the United States is no smarter than a five-year-old. And Yann LeCun, the head of AI for Facebook, said even the most advanced artificial intelligence systems are no sharper on the uptake than vermin.

The term “artificial intelligence” has been around since the mid-1950s when science fiction writers fantasized about automobiles that drove themselves, computers that could see, and even phones smart enough to respond to spoken commands.

However, the Stanford-led group that produced the AI index is the first to attempt to create a baseline to measure the technological progress of artificial intelligence.

“In many ways, we are flying blind in our discussions about artificial intelligence and lack the data we need to credibly evaluate activity,” said Yoav Shoham, professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford. “The goal of the AI Index is to provide a fact-based measuring stick against which we can chart progress and fuel a deeper conversation about the future of the field.”

The AI Index found a ton of venture capital money poured into artificial intelligence startup businesses. Active AI startups increased 14-fold since 2000, according to the AI Index report, and VC investment increased six times in the past 17 years.

Ironically, more human brainpower is attracted to the effort to improve the thought processes of artificial intelligence machines.

The AI Index report showed publishing in artificial intelligence grew nine-fold since 2000 and enrollments in the introductory AI-related machine-learning course at Stanford were 45 times higher than at the beginning of the millennium.

Researchers also discovered there are some things — image and speech recognition, object detection, the ability to understand and answer questions and classification of photos of skin cancer cells — that AI machines can do as well, or sometimes better, than a human.

But when it comes to functioning in the real world with anything beyond those rudimentary skills, artificial intelligence falls short.

“AI has made truly amazing strides in the past decade,” Shoham said, “but computers still can’t exhibit the common sense or the general intelligence of even a 5-year-old.”