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Monday, September 26, 2016

Our kids are being badly treated by school and newspapers act like nothing terrible is happening

Must we continue to make kids miserable in school? It seems every day we find new ways to accomplish this. The New York Post (a paper I read because they cover the sports teams that I follow) had this to say yesterday:

Good news: The State Education Department is doing the right thing, recommending only innocuous changes to the math and English standards in the controversial Common Core curriculum. 

How this is good news I don’t know since Common Core means that every kid must learn the same things so that kid’s can become the same, just like “compatible electrical sockets” (Those are Bill Gates’ words, not mine.) I suppose we would all die if one kid decided to follow his or her own interests and those interests were different than the kid next to them. Oh My God! A kid might not know the Quadratic Formula! (Hardly any adults know it or use it… but who cares?)

Back to the NY Post

The Common Core national academic standards outline the knowledge and skills that every student should have in math and English at the end of each grade.  Clear, universal standards make it easier to see which kids — and which schools and school systems — are falling behind. And that’s a threat to certain special interests — above all, teachers unions and their allies, who’ve done their best to feed hysteria over Common Core.

No, NY Post. There is nothing that every kid must know. Teachers unions and anyone with half a brain, except, of course, the politicians and special testing interests who passed this nonsense know this.

The goal of school ought not be to make it easier to see which schools and school systems are falling behind. We are not in a World Cup competition in education. The competition that we have put people in, unfortunately, is to get their kids into a “good college,” and parents trip over one another making sure their kid is “doing well.” 

We might measure how well they are doing by how happy they are, by how much they can’t wait to get to school that day, by how much a school lets a kid set his or her own goals and then helps them achieve them. No. That would be too rational. School is a triathlon isn’t it? We want winners and losers. 

I was one of the those winners. I went to a special smart kids high school in New York and I got into a “good college.” I did it by blowing school off and letting the chips fall where they might. Today, I doubt I could get away with that. Instead of playing baseball and football which is what I did as soon as I got home from school each day, today I would have to study to cram facts into my head that I would never need to know ever again. I would never have been able to satisfy Bill Gates, the Common Core Standards, nor the New York Post. (Oddly, The New York Times and the New York Post agree about Common Core which makes one wonder just how much money is out there pushing all this.)

To see the rest of this article go to this link:

I was nauseous enough from seeing the NY Post article but then I saw this:

The following appeared in the Washington Post yesterday:

As kindergarten ratchets up academics, parents feel the stress

Jo Ann Bjornson spent her early childhood in the care of babysitters until it came time for her to board the bus to school for half-day classes, an event that came with little fanfare. For her daughter Isabella, the days before kindergarten started this month included structured preschool, a bevy of summer camps and months of agonizing over whether the smart, sensitive 5-year-old was academically and socially ready to start school.

Kindergarten, where children were once encouraged to play and adjust to the rhythms of the school day, has long been evolving. But many parents new to modern-day elementary schooling say they have been shocked to find their children in a pressure cooker of rigorous academics, standardized tests, homework and what seem like outrageous expectations.

Huh?  Kids are getting anxious about kindergarten? Why is that a good thing?

The nation’s earliest grade — if you don’t count pre-K — now comes with packed orientation nights, school tours, Twitter chats, warnings to make sure children brush up on their skills and “dress rehearsals.” Some parents have come to view the first year of school not as a transition but as a make-or-break gauntlet that will shape their child’s academic career.

What are parents nervous about exactly? The competition. They are afraid their kids will lose — whatever that means — and they will be doomed forever. Has no one ever heard of kids who did poorly in school and then did well in life or vice versa? When did school become so important? When did grades and tests became so important? Why are we allowing this?

I should point out that societies have been allowing this for some time. 

This is from the Satyricon written by Petronius in the First Century:

This is the reason, in my opinion, why young men grow up such blockheads in the schools, because they neither see nor hear one single thing connected with the usual circumstances of everyday life.  

We have been teaching nonsense in schools forever. Why?

Because we allow academics to dictate what kids must know. You must take algebra, geometry, and calculus, in order to get into Harvard. Why? Because the professors at Harvard don’t care about that stuff and they hope someone else will teach it to you so they don't have to. Then, they hope you want to study theoretical mathematics or physics because that is the stuff they know. Parents who push children to get into college never think about what is really taught there. As far as I can see, going to Harvard allows you to say that you went to Harvard, which impresses many people. But people rarely mention what they learned there.

The other day my 8 year old grandson announced he was going to go to Brown. I asked him: “Why?” “What do they teach there that you want to learn?” Of course he didn’t know. What he did know was that his mother went there. So, I asked his mother what she had learned at Brown that she uses in her daily life. She said “nothing" and then went on to say why it was a wonderful experience. I am sure it was. 

College is fun after all. And you can get to learn some interesting things if what they teach there happens to be of interest to you. Is this a reason that we have to make everyone hysterical about kindergarten?

Something is really wrong here.

We need to find a new approach to education.

We might start with asking newspapers to stop promoting all the nonsense that is there now. The we could ask them to press politicians, who did all this, to start talking about. Neither of the candidates ever seems to say anything about education. IT is time to start asking hard questions of politicians about why school can’t be fun and less stressful.

School shouldn’t be a competition. It should allow true exploration and let kids find their way with help from teachers, teachers who are not grading them, but mentoring them. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Is "learning to code" the new way to promote factory job-based education?

Recently, I happened to spend some time with the back office software development groups of two major financial institutions.This would have been unremarkable except that the same week, Tim Cook, of Apple, was busy announcing that schools would be improved by Apple’s  “everyone can learn to code” program. Now, at first I found Apple’s intention to teach every kid to code unremarkable. Apple can say it is doing something for education when it is really making sure it will be able to sell more MacBooks to all these coders. Nothing new here.

I was amused when President Obama said that everyone should learn to code, since while I am guessing that Cook can code, I am pretty sure Obama cannot, so why does he care? And, what does he actually know about coding?

Now, I confess to thinking 30 or 40 years ago, that learning to code helped one learn to think. The students in my AI classes who couldn’t code typically just didn’t get what we were talking about — kind of like the writers who write about AI today.  

I used to say that thinking algorithmically was pretty important for thinking in general. In my undergraduate classes I often had a graduate student play “robot” and told the students in class to give the robot orders. What happened was always pretty funny because the students (who could not code) never really understood that the “robot” couldn’t interpret what they meant. They would tell him or her what to do and they were orders that couldn't be executed because the “robot” took everything quite literally and would just “get stuck” with orders that were imprecise. What anyone who programs learns is that you can’t just say something nonspecific and then hope that a miracle will occur. You have to spell out every step and you have to think about the best way to say those steps. So, coding just enables clear thinking and precise communication.

Having said that however I am usually cynical about “everyone should learn to do this" statements and have been getting more and more cynical about this.

Then, last week, I got it.

In my most recent column I quoted this:

Edward Cubberly, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education around 1900):

"Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."

So, the quote was on my mind when I was visiting the software development groups of these companies. “Everyone should learn to code” is the new way of saying we need to create compliant factory workers and that the real purpose of school is to make sure that we are training people for the “factory jobs” of the future. 

While this is not a terrible idea, one has to see what the programmers at these institutions are actually doing. They are monitoring, responding to bug reports, and trying to update legacy code that supports the internal workings of their institutions. In other words, it is rather dull work. 

Now dull work is better than no work, but we have glamorized coding so that we imagine everyone who learns to code will be building the next great app. And some, no doubt, some will. I am sure that some of the people we trained to be factory workers actually learned to run the factory and some people invented new methods and tools and new factories as well.

My immigrant grandmother worked in a sweat shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I assure you this wasn’t the best time of her life. She was very bright, but as an immigrant a sweat shop seamstress was her only option. Eventually she opened and ran her own hotel, and as she used to say, it was all so that I could become a Professor. 

Many of the people programming in these institutions are from other counties where a job in the US programming seems pretty glamorous.

But, I just think it needs to be pointed out that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is still the plan of CEOs and politicians to make sure that people will be able to do dull jobs. Maybe they aren’t wrong about that. Every job can’t be interesting, and every economy needs to be able to provide jobs for its people. 

But I am tired of this kind of stuff being promoted as a sign of how wonderful the people who are helping change education are. Tim Cook and President Obama are no different than Edward Cubberly. They are all trying to ensure that  “it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.”

And school will continue to be an awful experience designed by people who really do not care if children are miserable and poorly served. Not everyone will become a programmer after all.

Monday, September 5, 2016

"Save Me": a 15 year old girl writes to me about the misery of school

I received this by e-mail today from a 15 year old girl in Central America:

                                 Today my school had a meeting for all tenth graders in which they attempted to terrify us  (and succeeded) by telling us that this year was the most important of our lives and that if we didn't know what we wanted to be we were in for a life of starvation and eternal damnation, but chill, "we can still turn the situation around". Afterwards when I got home my dad had to listen to the complaints and frustrations of my fifteen year old self, but this time instead of trying to advise me he passed me his computer in which he had open an interview in El Pais. An interview with Roger Schank, where he said (in fancy words) that the education system was bullshit (pardon the foul languaqe, you see as a teenager I feel the need to fill everyones expectations and cliches about me). 
     The thing is, I completely agreed. Not in the way of an angry adolescent girl who hates homework, but as a concerned citizen of a country who constantly reinforces the idea that their education is shit by having kids in 8th grade who don't know how to read, or college students in their second year who have already switched majors twice. It makes me angry, in all honesty. The way we teach in our schools isn't the way I think you create successful (and happy) adults, it's the way you create the society we've had until now. 
    When I was five someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my first answer was princess (obviously) but my second one was doctor-soldier-veterinarian-actress-singer-teacher. I later found out that not only was that not a real profession, but that I had to pick one of those. And it seemed so hard, there were so many problems I wanted to fix in the world and I couldn't comprehend how it was that I had to choose at best two. So I made a decision: if I can't solve everything in the world, I can at least educate the people who can. Being a teacher was my main choice, but then I thought that I would have to be a teacher of a system I didn't believe in and didn't trust. So I decided recently that I want to change that system.
     I dream big and naively, I know. But how else do people get things done? So when I read your article, my hopes went up: there was someone out there with my same ideas! Someone who I hadn't talked to but that somehow shared my beliefs. So I got excited.
     The truth is, I started thinking about this because a teacher scared me half to death, but it feels bigger now, more important. And I want to act on it, I don't want to grow up and 30 years later find out that I'm an office worker unhappy in life and that hasn't done anything to improve this world. Because that's my main goal now: leave a positive mark here. So I should be wrapping up by now, so I will; I wrote this email to ask you one question (with possibly many follow-ups): How do I become you? What do I study to get into that life of education?
     I realize now that you probably won't read this, or even if you do you have absolutely no obligation to answer the silly email of a 15 year old girl in Central America. But I had to give it a shot. As long as it might be.
Thank you for sticking to what you believe in and for giving me at least a glimmer of hope towards a potential future.

I find this letter unbelievably sad. And the solution is so simple. We can build a virtual world academy that allows students to learn experientially with a human mentor (who might be anywhere, always available, that relies on team projects so kids are not working alone.) Want to try being a doctor? Be one in a virtual world until you are tired of it, and now want to run a zoo, or build a business, or learn to program. Let kids learn what they want to learn in curricula design by professionals. How hard is it to do this? It requires work and maybe a couple of hundred million dollars. Mark Zuckerberg could fund it in a minute. The US congress could fund it in a minute. (I once asked a US senator about this and he said: “well we could just build one less missile.”)

But we never do it. We just let kids be miserable, or, we use school for it’s true intention: indoctrination. The Washington Post reported today on the countries in Europe that are teaching that their students need to make more babies, by which they mean they don’t want to be overrun by foreigners. The true purpose of the school has always been making kids behave according to the current party line.

To quote Edward Cubberly, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education around 1900):

"Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."

We can, and must, address the needs of girls like this and kids everywhere.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chicken AI

My wife has acquired a flock of 8 chickens. As a city boy, I find this weird, but she is a farm girl and she loves chickens. I don’t mind the fresh eggs anyhow.

So, I found myself wondering about chicken intelligence. As I look at the chickens, I find myself curious about building a chicken AI. There has been so much over hype about the imminent AI taking over the world, so I thought about what we might have to do that to build a chicken AI, that is, a computer that was as smart as a chicken.

There are 8 chickens on our land. One avoids all the others. Let’s call it the autistic chicken. My wife informs me that there is a dominant chicken. One of the perks of being the dominant chicken is getting to sleep on the highest rung of the coop. (I don’t know why this matters to the chicken — this never came up in Brooklyn when I was growing up.) The chickens like to hang out together  (except for the autistic one). Why I come by they all try to be close to me., I don’t know why. I am not feeding them  so it has nothing to do with food. I do make chicken noises at them, and they make them back until I go away.

So, what would be going on in the mind of a chicken? 

From Modern Farmer: 

Purpose of the Pecking Order

Pecking order rank determines the order in which chickens are allowed to access food, water, and dust-bathing areas. It determines who gets the most comfortable nesting boxes and the best spots on the roosting bar. The good news is that, at least among a flock of chickens born and raised together, the pecking order is established early on and the birds live in relative harmony, with only minor skirmishes now and then to reinforce who is in charge.

The chicken at the top of pecking order has a special role to play in the flock. Because they are so strong and healthy, it’s their responsibility to keep constant watch for predators and usher the others to safety when a circling hawk appears or a strange rustling is heard in the bushes nearby. The top chicken is also expected to be an expert at sniffing out food sources, such as a nest of tasty grubs under a fallen log, or a bunch of kitchen scraps that the farmer dropped on their way to the compost pile. Even though the top chicken has the right to eat first, he or she usually lets the others feed, while keeping a vigilant watch for predators, and dines only after everyone else has had their fill.

Certainly a chicken has clear needs and it tries to figure out a way to get what it wants. This is a simple idea but one that is way beyond any AI program that is out there today. No one told the chicken which needs to have. It just has them. It wasn’t programmed by a human to have those needs. And, no one told the chicken how to get its needs fulfilled. And, no one told the autistic chicken to avoid all other chickens most of the time. So while you can get a computer to do these things, what we cannot do, at least not yet, is to get computers to generate their own needs and to figure out ways to fulfill them. The reason for that is that thinking requires observation, copying, the weighing of the pros and cons of various behaviors, and learning from the results.  And you also have to figure out when the pecking order has been established and it is time to give up trying to better your position. 

Chickens clearly have a rich sensory system, so much of what they “figure out” would come from what they see and feel. When ELIZA responds to someone saying they are feeling sad with “why are you feeling sad?” it is not relying on much cognitive power. A person who know who he or she was talking with, would sense the sadness and possibly be able to know where it was coming from, so it might respond “ you have simply got to get over her.”

The lesson here for AI is simple enough. The chickens are reasoning from data but probably not using statistics to do it. The chickens can copy behaviour and they can try things out to see if they work and then know what has and has not worked and get smarter from experience. Awareness of the world around you and sensing who might do what, matters a great deal.

Will AI be able to do this someday? I assume so. We are not there yet however.

The chickens come to visit my foot: 

The autistic chicken: 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

AI is everywhere. Just ask anyone.

This was on the John Oliver show this week. As he points out, this is pure nonsense:


Of course, we could just note that the speaker is just ignorant about what AI means and is really talking about machine learning. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on machine learning:

Machine learning is closely related to (and often overlaps with) computational statistics; a discipline which also focuses in prediction-making through the use of computers. It has strong ties to mathematical optimization, matrix theory, linear algebra, and copulas, which delivers methods, theory and application domains to the field. Machine learning is employed in a range of computing tasks where designing and programming explicit algorithms is unfeasible. Example applications include spam filtering, optical character recognition (OCR),[5] search engines and computer vision. Machine learning is sometimes conflated with data mining,[6] where the latter sub-field focuses more on exploratory data analysis and is known as unsupervised learning.[4]:vii[7]

But can statistical approaches to text processing do what the speaker suggests? Yes. It is called search and journalists already do this. Could a computer automatically do search? I am not even sure what that means. A computer can’t do anything that it hasn’t been told how to do and for which clear parameters haven’t been specified. Getting the computer to “automatically” find photography doesn’t sound so difficult. And it is quite easy if you are looking for a picture of John Oliver for example. Or is it?

Here are some pictures that appear on Google images search for “John Oliver.” 

How would the machine know which of these pictures are appropriate for a newspaper to use? It wouldn’t.

As AI heads for its inevitable winter due to over promising, I am hoping for Global Warming (of investors.)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Who is ruining our schools? Sorry to tell you: it is you

I was interviewed by El Pais (the newspaper in Spain with the highest circulation) last week, I proposed the usual things about education that I tend to suggest. Eliminate the 1892 curriculum, stop teaching algebra. Eliminate classrooms. Let kids learn whatever interests them. Move to a virtual model where any kid who wants to learn to be a fireman or a doctor or an aerospace engineer could do so (in a virtual world working with the kids who have the same interests who may not live near by and working with a human mentor who can answer their questions and give them help.) I have proposed this kind of thing many times before, most recently in my book: Make School Fun.

The interview is here (of course it is in Spanish):

The reaction was the usual as well. Twitter was alive with people who loved what I had to say, people whose kids hate school, and people who know that it is politicians and publishers/test makers who oppose all change. Math teachers think I am an idiot, which is usual despite the fact that there exists no evidence whatsoever that learning algebra helps you learn to think. Working at anything that required careful reasoning would teach you to think. Math should be taught in context as needed. Build a bridge and you will learn to think. You may need to learn some math as well. Why do we jam this stuff down kids heads despite their interests? It never stays there. No one remembers algebra who fails to use it regularly and very few of us use it at all.

I also, because I like to make trouble, decided to attack Don Quixote. Every Spanish child learns this book. The reporter was upset with me on this one too, because she said it was basic cultural knowledge of Spain that everyone has to have. I asked if that were true in Mexico where everyone has to learn it too, so she stopped pursuing it.

But the attacks online on this one were multiple and very revealing. I responded to one (always a bad idea) by guessing that you could ask any Spanish worker and they would have forgotten the Cervantes that they had been forced to read. The response was that every Spanish worker knew a quote about honey and the mouth of an ass. I asked why this mattered and was told that it taught one how to deal with one’s bosses and customers.

Maybe it does. But here is an idea. Why not teach business instead of literature (to students who are interested in business)? I have learned through living that “neither a borrower nor a lender be” is a very accurate observation. But I didn’t learn it from Shakespeare. I know the quote, but I learned its truth though mistakes I have made (which is pretty much how you learn everything.)
Who is it that keeps insisting on what everyone must read and everyone must know and every course that everyone must take? I have come to realize that although the government enforces this stuff, the real culprit is us. By us I mean the people likely to be reading what I have written here. Intellectuals believe that everything they were “exposed” to in school is valuable in some way. They believe this because they cannot be caught saying: “Shakespeare? Who is that?” 

We intellectuals live in a  world where passing knowledge of Dickens and Thoreau is considered normal, and even if you are a professor of Computer Science, you would be expected to know something about that stuff despite its lack of relevance for your daily life.(Remember that relevance comes after experiences. I didn't care about Dickens until I had lived some. I hated Dickens when I was forced to read to him at 12 and loved him at 30 when I had a sense of what the real issues were in life.)

Also, we forget is how much is not taught if the government considers it inconvenient.

When I am in Spain, I like to point out that nowhere in their history classes do they mention that they wiped out every single Native American in Uruguay which is today (intentionally) a completely white country. In Canada they fail to mention the massacre of the French so that the British could take Nova Scotia. (Leading to the escape of some French to Louisiana.)  The history we learn is meant to make us love our country. This is true for literature too. (Or at least love your language in the case of Americans having to read British literature.) The government wants to make sure its people are ready to lay down their lives for their great country. This gets worse in dictatorships, but it is a basic in democratic countries as well. 

Everyone must be “exposed” to this is the usual argument. Well, you were exposed to chemistry for a year. When was the last time you balanced a chemical equation? You were exposed to logarithms, can you explain how they are used? Exposure doesn't work. A school system run by intellectuals makes a population that is very “undereducated” to use Donald Trump’s term. 

This “under-education”, which is caused by schools that are jamming stuff down kid’s throats who resist it mightily, causes exactly what it was intended to cause. Many times in Washington, I have proposed fixing the education system and teaching people to think instead of to memorize stuff that aren't interested in.  I am very often responded to with: “but who would sweep the streets?” It has been every government’s plan to make school unappealing for the majority of the population so that they will do menial jobs. This was an explicit US policy in 1900 when we had factories we needed to staff. But today, it is just ridiculous. We can't afford to have the vast majority of the population incapable of engaging in anything more that   superficial thought. A population that has learned to hate school is one that is full of people who would rather watch TV than think.  

We don’t even bother to teach people how to raise children or how to have reasonable human relationships. Why don’t we expose students to child rearing, or getting along with others, or how to work, or how to start a business, or how to manage you own finances? Because we must expose them to Cervantes, or Dante, or to Moliere. Pick your country and you will get the intellectuals “must expose” argument. But all this exposure is not working very well. We are not producing the kinds of citizens who can engage in rational arguments and make good decisions about their own lives.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"John hit Mary" and other AI problems

With articles being written about AI constantly now, I feel it is time to think about the basics. How do you get a computer to understand a simple sentence such as John hit Mary?

When I first started working on computational linguistics (as it was called then), the linguists made clear that they thought this was easy to do on a computer. You just used a syntactic parser and identified the noun phrases and the verb phrases.

I thought this was absurd, just as absurd as the idea that AI is coming tomorrow to eat us all.

To explain why, let’s discuss this sentence. What happens when you hear it? You react in some way. You might think that this was spousal abuse and that the police should be called. But then, I could tell you that John is 5 and Mary is his mother. Then you might wondered if and how Mary punished him. Or, I could tell you that John is 50 and Mary is his mother. Now you are wondering about the police again and also about what is wrong with John. Or, I could tell you that Mary is 5 and John is her father and you would be wondering about his parenting skills.

Absent of any of this information you make assumptions. I could ask you what Mary was wearing or what color her hair was and you might very well have an answer, or at least a guess. We comprehend through visualization and imagination. No sentence makes full sense out of context and we rarely have the full context, so we imagine it. People are constantly figuring out the parts they don’t know for sure. We make mistakes all the time. That is how human comprehension works. Did I mention that John and Mary were each driving their own cars at the time? Did I mention that John is a blackjack dealer and Mary was playing blackjack? Perhaps John is a baseball pitcher and Mary was the batter. Maybe they are both boxers.

Sentences don’t mean much out of context but two things are true:

1. we never have the full context so understanders make inferences, draw pictures in their minds and attempt to do the best they can

2. computers, in order to do this effectively, would have to have what people have: a model of the world. 

When you hear about all the AI programs being worked on today it is safe to assume that they are not even thinking about building complex world models.

For fun, I typed “John hit Mary” into Google. The first thing that comes up is an article on empathy that discusses some of what I have been saying here. The second thing that comes up is an excerpt from a book of mine (Explanation Patterns) which discusses the belief structures underlying the comprehension of such a sentence.  

Since the media and many companies would have se believe that have solved the natural language problem, let’s consider a real example of “John hit Mary” . This is from the New York Post (July 25, 2016);

Cops smashed their way into Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan’s posh London flat after a furious bust up with her Russian lover.
Police were called in as Lohan, 30, suffered a meltdown on the balcony of her Knightsbridge apartment with boyfriend Egor Tarabasov, 22 – claiming she had been attacked.
Waking up neighbors, the A-lister shouted, “He just strangled me. He almost killed me.”
In footage taken by a neighbor she could be heard begging for help outside of her $4.2 million home at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Shouting her name and address across the street, she screamed, “Please please please. He just strangled me. He almost killed me. Everybody will know. Get out of my house.”
She added, “Do it. I dare you again. You’re f—ing crazy. You sick f—. You need help. It’s my house, get out of my house.”
She was also heard shouting to Egor — who was also near the balcony, “I’m done. I don’t love you anymore. You tried to kill me. You’re a f—ing psycho,” before adding. “We are finished.”
She added, “No Egor, you’ve been strangling me constantly. You can’t strangle a woman constantly and beat the s— out of her and think it’s ok. Everybody saw you touch me. It’s filmed. Get out! Get out.”
Ten minutes later police arrived after receiving reports of a “woman in distress” – forcing their way into the property – only to find it empty after going inside.
They said no crime was committed and no arrests were made.

How would a computer understand this story? It would need a better model of the world than I have. I don't know much about Lindsay Lohan except that she was a popular child actor who now seems to be in trouble quiet often.

Reading this story, I wonder what is wrong with her. Why does she make such bad choices? How is a 22 year old Russian the right man for her? 

Then, also, I wonder why no arrests were made. Was she making it all up? And how about “you have been strangling me constantly?” Really? Why would someone put up with that? Sometimes, I know, poor women put up with abuse because they have nowhere to go. But isn’t she the rich one?

So, when I read this, I wonder many things about what is wrong with this woman, why her life went so wrong, why someone isn’t helping her, and what parts of this story have been left out.

A computer would need a deep model about why people do what they do, better than the one I have, because I am even having trouble with wondering why this is news. (Of course, it is the New York Post.)

When computers can tell me what the real issues are here and be able to enlighten me in some way about the  questions I asked, then I would be impressed. Not afraid this AI, simply happy to know that a computer could explain stuff to me that I don't have a good world model for, and hence don’t understand very well. It is the building of complex world models about why people do what they do that underlies all understanding. The AI being worked on today doesn't even attempt to solve that problem.