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Big Tech's big bluff on AI: Why Microsoft and Amazon still rely on humans for 'machine intelligence'

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Tech firms from Google to Amazon are relying on human beings to do legwork for their AI Credit: AFP

Over two hundred years ago, an inventor named Wolfgang von Kempelen unveiled his latest creation in Vienna: a chess-playing robot known as the Mechanical Turk. 

At the time, the device was viewed as a masterful automaton but it was later revealed to be a clever illusion, controlled by a hidden human operator.

Today, we have our own modern day Mechanical Turks. Devices like Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, Siri on your iPhone or Bixby on Samsung dazzle with their ability to answer voice commands and questions in a way few thought would be possible just a few years ago.

Few of us have much idea about how they work - but they certainly seem to operate using artificial intelligence, even if they are...

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