Taking Baby Steps Toward Software That Reasons Like Humans

March 6, 2016 By JOHN MARKOFF Richard Socher appeared nervous as he waited for his artificial intelligence program to answer a simple question: “Is the tennis player wearing a cap?” The word “processing” lingered on his laptop’s display for what felt like an eternity. Then the program offered the answer a human might have given instantly: “Yes.” Mr. Socher, who clenched his fist to celebrate his small victory, is the founder of one of a torrent of Silicon Valley start-ups intent on pushing variations of a new generation of pattern recognition software, which, when combined with increasingly vast sets of data, is revitalizing the field of artificial intelligence. His company MetaMind, which is in crowded offices just off the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif., was founded in 2014…


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