Microsoft acquired Maluuba back in January. Back then, we had a rough idea that the company was going to deploy the highly skilled, PhD holders it received into ramping up its own Artificial Intelligence capabilities. However, we now know exactly what the team of researchers have been doing. Apparently, they have been teaching machines the art of asking questions!
Questions are important. Imagine the kind of conversations we old have if no one was allowed to ask questions? Our conversations would start off and finish over things like It is nice outside and yes, so it is. There would not be an exchange of ideas and the two participants would leave, hardly being any wiser about each other than they were before the conversation. That is exactly how important questions are.
Which brings us to chatbots. They are intelligent and are expected to pick up things. But have you ever had Siri, or even Microsoft’s own Cortana, or any other artificial assistance ask you a real question? A question that forced you to put on your thinking cap or marvel at how your smartphone was putting up queries this intelligent? Thought not. This is the gap that Maluuba is hoping to bridge.
An artificial assistant that could also pose intelligent questions would actually put the ‘I’ in intelligent. In a recent paper, the team explained how it was using recurrent networks to generate questions by feeding an assistant a body of text. A combination of reinforcement and supervised learning was deployed. The team also prioritized accuracy and grammar as the aim was to generate questions in the proper English language. Also kept in mind, was that fact that these questions should be answerable from within he body of text.
The ability to ask questions not only improves the conversation, but it also improves the ability to answer the same. The uses of such a system are of course, myriad. We also see how AI could get into teaching as well. After all, isn’t the teaching process highly reliant on a dialogue between the teacher and the student that is liberally sprinkled with questions and answers?