A breakthrough for A.I. technology: Passing an 8th-grade science test

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SAN FRANCISCO — Four years ago, more than 700 computer scientists competed in a contest to build artificial intelligence that could pass an eighth-grade science test. There was $80,000 in prize money on the line.

They all flunked. Even the most sophisticated system couldn’t do better than 60 percent on the test. A.I. couldn’t match the language and logic skills that students are expected to have when they enter high school.

But on Wednesday, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a prominent lab in Seattle, unveiled a new system that passed the test with room to spare. It correctly answered more than 90 percent of the questions on an eighth-grade science test and more than 80 percent on a 12th-grade exam.

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