Ask Ray | How do you respond to Noam Chomsky’s claim that ‘Watson is not good AI’?

February 19, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil


I was wondering if I could get a comment from Mr. Kurzweil. I know he thinks Watson will win the Jeopardy! match — I agree. Professor Noam Chomsky has told me that Watson is not good AI, though, and I’m curious how Kurzweil would respond to Chomsky’s words, found here.

I read your article in PC Magazine, which is what persuaded me to contact you. With regards to Chomsky, are you basically saying he’s right? It sounds like your position is that Watson may not be AI, but remains a very important step.

Gavin Schmitt


The interview you had with Chomsky is interesting but his answers are so brief that it is difficult to understand what he is trying to say. I would say that Watson is clearly not yet “strong AI,” but it is an important step in that direction. It is the clearest demonstration I’ve seen of computers handling the subtleties of language including metaphors, puns and jokes, something people had said would not be possible. I don’t agree with Chomsky that Watson is not impressive, in that regard.

It’s not yet strong AI. As long as AI has any flaws or limitations, people will jump on these. By the time that the set of these limitations is nil, AI will have long since surpassed unaided human intelligence.