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The Great AI Paradox: Genius Yet Foolish

By TED     Updated Mar 8, 2024

Delve into the mesmerizing world of artificial intelligence (AI) as we explore its genius and its foolish blunders through the lens of Yejin Choi’s engaging TED Talk. This journey promises to unravel the complex nature of AI, where brilliance meets seemingly simple errors, amidst an era of astonishing technological advances.

1. Giant Strides and Stumbling Blocks

Artificial intelligence today dwarfs in its computational capabilities, conquering tasks previously deemed insurmountable for machines—highlighted by its victories over human intellect in games and exams. These are the giant strides, racing ahead in the realms of sheer knowledge acquisition and processing power.

Yet, this colossus stumbles over what seems like toddler-level obstacles. Simple logical puzzles that even children could solve leave the most advanced AI models baffled. This dichotomy serves as a sobering reminder of AI's limitations despite its computational triumphs.

Choi contemplates whether brute computational power and scaling are indeed the panacea AI's stumbling blocks. This questioning signals a pivotal moment in reconsidering how we approach AI development, moving beyond mere scale towards embedding deeper understanding and reasoning capabilities.

2. Shaping AI through Human Norms and Common Sense

The dream is a powerful AI, resplendent with human-like common sense and an intrinsic understanding of human norms and ethics. But how do we turn this dream into reality? Choi posits that we must innovate in how AI learns, shifting focus to data quality and the incorporation of ethical guidelines.

Choi and her team undertake this monumental task by creating knowledge graphs imbued with common-sense wisdom and moral norms. These resources aim to guide AI in mastering human values, thereby making it a safer and more reliable tool for humanity.

What emerges is a call to action for more transparent, collective efforts in AI training. This means opening up the covert datasets feeding AI's learning processes, ensuring they are aligned with human values—a crucial step towards building an AI that truly understands and benefits humanity.

3. The Dichotomy of AI Progress

Among public reactions, there's an acknowledgment of AI's remarkable capabilities alongside concern over its glaring deficits in understanding basic logic and common sense. This reflects a general consensus that while AI astonishes us with its achievements, its failures present glaring challenges that need addressing.

Some express optimism about the future, betting on more data and better algorithms to refine AI’s reasoning and comprehensions, akin to how a child learns through interaction with the world—underscoring the complexity and nuances of human learning compared to AI.

Critics argue that current AI advancements reflect a skewed understanding and utilization of data, where biases or gaps in datasets might lead AI down paths of misunderstanding or misjudgment, affecting its reliability and applicability in real-world scenarios.

4. A Historical Parallel and the Path Forward

Drawing parallels to history, some comments hint at a cyclical pattern of overestimation of technological advancements, leading to disillusionment when faced with their inherent limitations. This perspective suggests AI, despite its current state, is on a similar trajectory and requires careful reflection and redirection.

Yejin Choi’s emphasis on humanistic AI resonates with a public seeking responsible and ethical AI development. The call for a shift towards embedding common sense and ethical norms signals a growing consensus on the need for AI to do more than just compute—it needs to understand and coexist.

The dialogue between Yejin Choi and the public illuminates a vibrant intersection of optimism, critique, and reflection. It underscores the critical role of a collective human effort in shaping an AI that mirrors our highest aspirations, rather than our deepest anxieties.


Yejin Choi's TED Talk offers a profound exploration of AI's current capabilities, highlighting its incredible intelligence in beating world champions and passing exams, while also revealing its shockingly stupid mistakes in basic reasoning tasks. This duality illustrates a critical junction in AI development, stressing the need for a shift towards embedding common sense, ethical norms, and humanistic values in AI systems despite the drive towards scaling up computational power.