Though the singularity is fast approaching, artificial intelligence’s computing power is currently equivalent to that of an earthworm. Research scientist Janelle Shane urges programmers to bear that in mind when assigning AI tasks to accomplish. With a series of examples that resembles an AI bloopers reel, she illustrates the hilarious and sometimes tragic misadventures of programming AI. As algorithms’ role in human lives grows, understanding AI’s limitations is critical.


Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t as smart as many assume.

When coders from a middle school fed more than 1,600 ice cream flavors into a self-learning algorithm to see what new tantalizing combinations it would generate, the algorithm invented flavors such as “pumpkin trash break” and “peanut butter slime.” No, AI is not trying to poison humans. Rather, it didn’t understand the problem assigned to it.

AI is about as smart as an earthworm or perhaps a honeybee. So AI will attempt to execute human demands if it can, but it might not always complete tasks in ways that humans expect.

Algorithms rely on precise communication and data from coders to solve problems.

In one research study, programmers asked an AI program to build from a collection of parts a robot with the capacity...

About the Speaker

Research scientist and blogger Janelle Shane examines the limitations of artificial intelligence.

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