At Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), in Tokyo, a research team is trying to create an artificial intelligence program that has enough smarts to pass Japan’s most rigorous entrance exams. The AI will start by taking the standardized test administered to all secondary school students; once it masters that test, it will move on to the more difficult University of Tokyo exam.
“Passing the exam is not really an important research issue, but setting a concrete goal is useful,” says Noriko Arai, the team leader and a professor at NII. And by having the AI answer real questions from the exams, “we can compare the current state-of-the-art AI technology with 18-year-old students,” she says. The latest results show that her protégé is coming along well in subjects like history and reading comprehension.
Research activities have been conducted with two specific benchmarks, to achieve high marks on the National Center Test for University Admissions by 2016, and to pass the entrance examination for the University of Tokyo by 2021.
This is different from the IBM Watson program because there is more reading and reading comprehension involved. The last part also involves writing essays.