Science 3 min read

New AI-powered Robot Developed by Alibaba Beats Humans in Reading Test

Phonlamai Photo /

Phonlamai Photo /

After defeating humans in games, a new AI-powered robot has set another world record by outperforming humans on a reading test.

The age of artificial intelligence is definitely upon us. After DeepMind’s AlphaGo defeated high ranking Go professional players Lee Sedol and Ke Jie, a new AI robot has once again outperformed us in another field: reading.

According to reports, the artificial intelligence system developed by Jack Ma‘s Alibaba Group got a better score than humans in a Stanford reading and comprehension test. The test was allegedly devised by AI experts from the university to measure the growing reading abilities of computers, CNN reported.

“This is the first time that a machine has outperformed humans on such a test,” Alibaba was quoted as saying in a statement on Monday.

The Chinese company’s AI research group, Institute of Data Science of Technologies, led by its chief scientist of natural language processing Luo Si is said to be greatly honored by this achievement. However, they also acknowledged the fact that their new technology could potentially take over jobs currently being done by humans.

The new #AI robot of @AlibabaGroup reportedly defeated humans in reading testClick To Tweet

In a statement, Si said that their technology “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.”

Alibaba’s new AI Robot

Last week, Alibaba’s new AI robot was put to the test, with the scientists letting the machine answer over 100,000 questions in a quiz that is currently considered one of the world’s most authoritative machine-reading gauges.

The questions were reportedly generated from a set of Wikipedia articles, allowing the researchers to know if machines can process vast amounts of information.

“That means objective questions such as ‘what causes rain’ can now be answered with high accuracy by machines,” Si said.

The humans and Alibaba’s AI were asked to read a passage from over 500 Wikipedia articles. Then, a series of questions regarding what they read was generated for them to answer. Surprisingly, the results showed that the deep neural network model was able to score an impressive 82.44, surpassing the 82.304 score garnered by its human rivals.

While Alibaba’s new AI robot was the first to defeat humans in a reading and comprehension test, its score was quickly defeated a day after by Microsoft’s AI software which scored 82.650 on the same test.

“These kinds of tests are certainly useful benchmarks for how far along the AI journey we may be,” Andrew Pickup, a spokesman for Microsoft, said. “However, the real benefit of AI is when it is used in harmony with humans.”

Aside from Alibaba, Chinese tech giants Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. are also developing AI technologies that could be useful in managing social media feeds, target ads, and other services like autonomous driving.

It should be noted that Beijing has already endorsed the development of artificial intelligence technology in a national-level plan that would allegedly push China to become an industry leader by 2030.

Do you believe that AI robots could potentially take over human jobs in the future? Why or why not? Let us know your answer in the comment section below!

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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