SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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Nuance Announces the Winograd Schema Challenge to Advance Artificial Intelligence Innovation

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) today announced an annual competition to develop programs that can solve the Winograd Schema Challenge, a test developed by Hector Levesque, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, and winner of the 2013 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence. Nuance announced the challenge at the 28th AAAI Conference in Quebec, Canada.

Nuance is sponsoring the yearly competition in cooperation with CommonsenseReasoning.org, a research group dedicated to furthering and promoting research in the field of formal commonsense reasoning. CommonsenseReasoning.org will organize, administer, and evaluate the Winograd Schema Challenge. The winning program that passes the test will receive a grand prize of $25,000. The test is designed to judge whether a program has truly modeled human level intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been measured by the “Turing Test,” proposed in 1950 by one of the great pioneers of computer science, Alan Turing, who sought a way to determine whether a computer program exhibited human level intelligence. The test is considered passed if the program can convince a human that he or she is conversing with a human and not a machine. No system has ever passed the Turing Test, and most existing programs that have tried rely on considerable trickery to fool humans. Even the recently unveiled program modeling a 13-year-old boy has left many skeptical. These efforts have also suggested that the Turing Test may not be an ideal way to judge a machine’s intelligence.

The Winograd Schema Challenge is an alternative to the Turing Test that provides a more accurate measure of genuine machine intelligence. Rather than base the test on the sort of short free-form conversation suggested by the Turing Test, the Winograd Schema Challenge poses a set of multiple-choice questions that have a form where the answers are expected to be fairly obvious to a layperson, but ambiguous for a machine without human-like reasoning or intelligence.

An example of a Winograd Schema question is the following: “The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big. What was too big? Answer 0: the trophy or Answer 1: the suitcase?” A human who answers these questions correctly typically uses his abilities in spatial reasoning, his knowledge about the typical sizes of objects, and other types of commonsense reasoning, to determine the correct answer.

“There has been renewed interest in AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) as a means of humanizing the complex technological landscape that we encounter in our day-to-day lives,” said Charles Ortiz, Senior Principal Manager of AI and Senior Research Scientist, Natural Language and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Nuance Communications. “The Winograd Schema Challenge provides us with a tool for concretely measuring research progress in commonsense reasoning, an essential element of our intelligent systems. Competitions such as the Winograd Schema Challenge can help guide more systematic research efforts that will, in the process, allow us to realize new systems that push the boundaries of current AI capabilities and lead to smarter personal assistants and intelligent systems.”

Contest Details

The test will be administered on a yearly basis by CommonsenseReasoning.org starting in 2015. The first submission deadline will be October 1, 2015. The 2015 Commonsense Reasoning Symposium, to be held at the AAAI Spring Symposium at Stanford from March 23-25, 2015, will include a special session for presentations and discussions on progress and issues related to this Winograd Schema Challenge. Contest details can be found at http://commonsensereasoning.org/winograd.html.

Prizes

The winner that meets the baseline for human performance will receive a grand prize of $25,000. In the case of multiple winners, a panel of judges will base their choice on either further testing or examination of traces of program execution. If no program meets those thresholds, a first prize of $3,000 and a second prize of $2,000 will be awarded to the two highest scoring entries. In the case of teams, the prize will be given to the team lead whose responsibility will be to divide the prize among its teammates as appropriate.

About Nuance Communications, Inc.

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit www.nuance.com.

Nuance and the Nuance logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States of America and/or other countries. All other company names or product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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