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Robots to sit China's national math exam in 2017
Last Updated: 2016-05-06 07:19 | Xinhua
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An artificial intelligence (AI) device may sit and (perhaps) pass the national college entrance exam ("gaokao") in math in 2017, a tech company said Thursday.

The AI test taker, part of a project by the Ministry of Science and Technology, was designed by Chengdu Zhun Xing Yun Xue Technology Co., Ltd.

According to the plan, the AI will attend next year's gaokao math test, usually on June 7, along with millions of Chinese students. Like its human peers, it will be asked to complete a 150-point math test in two hours in a room without Internet access.

Fu Hongguang, who leads the development team, said the key to passing the exam includes understanding the language and knowledge inference. They have built a huge knowledge database for the machine to understand the questions.

"For instance, to solve the chicken-rabbits problem (calculating the numbers of chicken and rabbits kept in the same cage given the number of total legs and heads), it must know that chicken have two legs and rabbits have four," Fu said.

The project began in 2015 so there have only been two years of preparation, but the team is confident.

"An ordinary human student can solve 100 math questions a day, but the AI can take on tens of thousands. It can keep learning and finding patterns in the process," CEO Lin Hui said.

The machine has scored as high as 115 in previous mock exams.

Scientists say exams designed for humans can be a touchstone for a machine's intelligence level, especially in language. China hopes its AI will be smart enough to gain admission to leading universities through the gaokao by 2020. Japan's Todai robot is also working toward the goal of entering the University of Tokyo by 2021.

Apart from benefiting AI research, the test-taker is expected to boost its applications in education, including automatic grading of answer sheets and homework designed to lighten the workload of human teachers, according to the company.

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