We’ve been promised a revolution in how and why nearly everything happens. But the limits of modern artificial intelligence are closer than we think.

Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, has said that AI “is more profound than electricity or fire.” Andrew Ng, who founded Google Brain and now invests in AI startups, wrote that “If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.” Their enthusiasm is pardonable. There have been remarkable advances in AI, after decades of frustration.

Today we can tell a voice-activated personal assistant like Alexa to “Play the band Television,” or count on Facebook to tag our photographs; Google Translate is often almost as accurate as a human translator. Over the last half decade, billions of dollars in research funding and venture capital have flowed towards AI; it is the hottest course in computer science programs at MIT and Stanford.

In Silicon Valley, newly minted AI specialists command half a million dollars in salary and stock. But there are many things that people can do quickly that smart machines cannot.

Natural language is beyond deep learning; new situations baffle artificial intelligences, like cows brought up short at a cattle grid. None of these shortcomings is likely to be solved soon. Read more from wired.com…

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