The Minds of Machines

Mihai Surdeanu
Associate Professor of Computer Science
University of Arizona

We are inundated daily with news about artificial intelligence (AI) achieving tremendous results, e.g., defeating human champions at Go, driving better than us, etc. But does this mean that we are approaching the technical singularity where artificial intelligence far surpasses the human one? Does this mean that machines truly think? In this talk we will analyze these questions and illustrate that AI does not think that way we think: machines do not have a good way to represent and reason with world knowledge, and, of course, they are not self aware. Instead, AI is designed to automate and scale up pattern recognition for specific tasks.  Because of this different goal, AI does perform better than humans at certain tasks. I will review a series of problems where AI outperforms humans, including specific applications of natural language understanding, precision medicine, identifying planetary objects, and other problems, many of which have been implemented here at University of Arizona.