When you were young, you were likely told that reading was fundamental. It’s why you were forced to complete all those reading comprehension assignments and verbal reasoning tests. Well, apparently reading is now considered to be a fundamental ability that computers should have as well. According to scientists, a computer should be able to read text. The only thing is, as smart as a computer may be, it can’t beat you at a reading test. At least not yet. Let’s take a look at whether a computer can learn to read text and why computers have nothing on you when it comes to reading at the moment.
The Computer and Reading Connection
Computers, like the Next Unit of Computing (NUC), are made to process all kinds of data. However, the meaning of one particular type of data is so dense and rich that even advanced artificial intelligence has a hard time fully comprehending it. That type of data? Language.
Your mind can easily understand spoken and written language. But as of now, it is challenging for your computer to do the same. In other words, it is not easy for a computer to read text. In an experiment back in 2018, computer scientists were able to create artificial intelligence programs that outperformed human beings in a test focused on reading comprehension. They discovered a computer that is trying to read text can also be tricked relatively easily. In addition, the questions featured on the test were close-ended questions versus more interpretive and open-ended questions.
The Challenges Computers Face When It Comes to Reading
For people or things to understand words in sentences, they have to comprehend the words preceding and following them. In artificial intelligence, neural networks are not capable of doing this at the moment, because they lack an ability called persistence. This refers to being able to obtain and retain information from various inputs.
Simply put, neural networks in artificial intelligence cannot put certain individual inputs or outputs in context. This often causes computers to become bogged down by the details of the text, and they miss the meaning of the written text as a whole.
What Does the Future Hold for Computers and Reading?
Will a computer be able to read text at the same level as humans in the future? At the moment, industry researchers aren’t making predictions. After all, understanding written language requires a level of human knowledge and understanding that computers might not be able to attain for decades.
Still, based on artificial intelligence’s history, computers’ ability to solve problems offers great promise for the future. If a computer can master how to read text, this will make machines even more powerful and useful for us.
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