Daddy, What Comes Before Strawberries? – or Why Computers are Dumb

Yesterday we sat at the table and as usual we had to send the kids to the bathroom to was their hands (again). My little daughter (3.5y) came back from the bathroom and asked “Daddy, what comes before strawberry”?

My brain started working – what is she asking? what fruit comes before strawberry? is there a natural ordering on the fruit set? of maybe she is learning letters in her day-care center and S goes for strawberry, so the answer should be R? but what fruit is R? or what other thing is R in her day-care center? Or is this from some kind of book (we have a book where every animal is a letter, so why not have a book where every fruit is a letter)?.

Thankfully my wife came to the rescue – Oh, before strawberry it was blueberry. My happy kid smiled and came to the table.

WHAT???

Yesterday my wife changed the soap in the bathroom, and the new soap has strawberry scent. The soap before that had blueberry scent.

So to answer the girls question my wife had to know a lot of context (my girl went to the bathroom, the soap is scented, strawberry is not also a fruit but also a smell, etc…). Computers are good at storing information, so probably storing all of this context is not hard. But think of how much context we have all day, full HD video 24/7. Do you know how much GBs it stores to take that? and process it on the fly like we do? Computers are far, very far from being able to process so much multimedia information in so short a time. And after this step is done, there is still a problem – in what logical system does blueberry come before strawberry? Figuring out what the question is becomes a lot harder than answering it. Artificial Intelligence still has a long long way to go.

I love my kids. They always give me a lot of things to think about :-).

One thought on “Daddy, What Comes Before Strawberries? – or Why Computers are Dumb

  1. Oh. For me the answer of “what comes before strawberries?” looked pretty obvious. Before strawberries comes a lot of discussion and negotiation between vegetables and chocolate, probably including some crying and some how-to-be-strong-and-healthy explanations, followed by finding a solution that sounded acceptable to both parts.
    I guess it is just a different context…..

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