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Page views: This entry on the Muslim Brotherhood was composed by computers using information gathered from online news sources.

Accordingly, many of the system’s results come across as a bit wooden or off-key. The profile of Barack Obama, for example, correctly identifies him as the president of the United States, but then summarizes him this way: “Obama has been described as ‘Nobel Peace Prize winner,’ ‘the only reasonable guy in the room,’ ‘an anti-apartheid campus divestment activist,’ and ‘the most trusted politician in the CR-poll.’ “

At another point it notes, “Obama is married to Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama; other family members include Henry Healy, Malia Obama, and Ann Dunham.” (Healy is a distant Obama cousin from Moneygall, Ireland. Obama’s younger daughter, Sasha, isn’t mentioned.)

The system lacks real-world knowledge that would help a human analyst recognize something as false, humorous, or plainly irrelevant. Indeed, some of the outputs can be a little comical. I looked up Abraham Lincoln and found that the statements attributed to him include a number of accurate ones (though nothing from his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address). Then I stumbled across this quote, which seems to have been produced when the system got itself snagged in some published list of famous sayings and did its best to synthesize them. “Abraham Lincoln says that the point of honey one fishing of flies more than fish barrels of a bitter pill, as well as the case for humans,” the profile reports.

Humans aren’t going to be completely replaced anytime soon.

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Credits: David Talbot, Raytheon BBN

Tagged: Computing, Communications

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