An AI System for Multiple-choice Tests

According to the New York Times, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence unveiled a new system that correctly answered more than 90 percent of the questions on an eighth-grade science test and more than 80 percent on a 12th-grade exam. Is it really a breakthrough for AI technology, as the title of the article claims? This is quite controversial among experts. The newspaper is optimistic: “The system, called Aristo, is an indication that in just the past several months researchers have made significant progress in developing A.I. that can understand languages and mimic the logic and decision-making of humans.” (NYT, 4 September 2019) Aristo was built for multiple-choice tests. “It took standard exams written for students in New York, though the Allen Institute removed all questions that included pictures and diagrams.” (NYT, 4 September 2019) Some questions could be answered by simple information retrieval. There are numerous systems that access Google and Wikipedia, including artifacts of machine ethics like LIEBOT and BESTBOT. But for the answers to other questions logical thinking was required. Perhaps Aristo is helping to abolish multiple-choice tests – not so much because it can solve them, but because they are often not effective.