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An AI Program in Japan Just Passed a College Entrance Exam

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An artificial intelligence program received such high scores on a standardized test that it’d have an 80% chance of getting into a Japanese university.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the program, developed by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, took a multi-subject college entrance exam and passed with an above-average score of 511 points out of a possible 950. (The national average is 416.) With scores like that, it has an 8 out of 10 chance of being admitted to 441 private institutions in Japan, and 33 national ones.


The AI took some time to perfect, and it still has a ways to go. The team had been working on the program since 2011, the same year IBM’s Watson dominated Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a multi-day tournament. Previously, the Japanese AI program had received below-average results, but this time around, the robot did particularly well in math and history questions, which have straightforward answers, but it still received iffy marks in the physics section of the test, which requires advanced language processing skills.

The program, called the Todai Robot Project, aims to have a robot smart enough to get into Tokyo University, the country’s most prestigious school and often called “the Harvard of Japan,” by 2021. (“Todai” is a nickname for Tokyo Daigaku, the Japanese name for Tokyo University.)


Earlier this year, a software program here in the US was able to take the SAT and solved 11th-grade geometry questions.

Right now, though, the Japan team’s success proves that robots can be programmed to tackle complex word problems, combine images and text, and could be capable of better semantic recognition that can allow them to answer many different types of questions.

The real question should be: How long ‘til we get a real-life version of Robot House?

[Todai Robot Project via Wall Street Journal]

Top image via Shutterstock.