Software Called Aristo Can Take on High School Science Exams

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During which season of the year would a rabbit's fur be thickest? A computer program called Aristo can tell you because it read about bears growing thicker pelts during winter in a fourth-grade study guide, and it knows rabbits are mammals, too. Aristo is being developed by researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle, who want to give machines a measure of common sense about the world. The institute's CEO, Oren Etzioni, says the best way to benchmark the development of their digital offspring is to use tests designed for schoolchildren. He's trying to convince other AI researchers to adopt standardized school tests as a way to measure progress in the field.