Artificial Intelligence and the “20 Questions” game

Think of something! A computer guesses what you are thinking of, usually in 20 questions or less, at


We call this kind of application “Artifical Intelligence“, and yet there's not much intelligence at work here. The computer is simply accumulating and classifying previous responses, then using a neural network to tie them all together. And yet, the results are impressive!

The computer easily guessed fire, frisbee, grass, lover, car, freeway, tennis, etc. But I stumped it with “researcher”, a word not in its knowledgebase. Here's how it went:

  • Is it classified as Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? Animal
  • Can you buy it at a store? No
  • Does it eat leaves? Sometimes
  • Is it very large? No
  • Does it live in trees? No
  • Is it a pure bred animal? No
  • Does it make noise? Yes
  • Can you control it? Usually
  • Is it small? No
  • Is it something you bring along? No
  • Is it outside? Sometimes
  • Is it comforting? Sometimes
  • Is it considered intelligent? Yes
  • Does it perform? Probably
  • Does it play music? No
  • Can it carry people? Rarely
  • Does it have a long tail? No
  • Can you hold it? Maybe
  • I am guessing that it is a family? Wrong
  • I am guessing that it is people? Wrong
  • Is it involved in movies? No
  • Can it be used for recreation? Sometimes
  • Would you find it in an office? Sometimes
  • I am guessing that it is a colleague? Wrong
  • Would you like to be one? Yes
  • Can you find it in a church? Sometimes
  • Do you use it in public? Yes
  • Can you use it with your friends? Yes
  • I am guessing that it is a football team? Wrong
  • I am guessing that it is a jester? Hmmm…

Some of my answers above were a bit dubious. You might get different results with different answers – and you can also play in different languages, with a distinction made between American English and British English.

You can also find this application as the “20Q” child's toy.

(via tlspiegel-ga and pafalafa-ga)

One Response to “Artificial Intelligence and the “20 Questions” game”

  1. pafalafaga says:

    It couldn’t guess that I was thinking of “My Wife” either. This surprised me, a bit, as I thought this might be a pretty common thing to think of, and — though my wife is undeniably unique — she shares many characteristic features with other wives, such being comforting, being larger than a loaf of bread, and completely lacking a tail.

    pafalafaga Dave Sarokin