AI21 Labs unveils new system that will change the way AI understands human language

The framework, called MRKL, will revolutionize the way that artificial intelligence processes the way humans speak.

 AI21's founders (from right to left: Amnon Shashua, Yoav Shoham, and Ori Goshen) (photo credit: AI21 LABS)
AI21's founders (from right to left: Amnon Shashua, Yoav Shoham, and Ori Goshen)
(photo credit: AI21 LABS)

There exists a crossroads between computer science, linguistics and artificial intelligence that concerns an AI’s ability to understand how humans speak and what they mean when they do. That field of technology is referred to as Natural Language Processing, or NLP. AI21 Labs, an Israeli company that offers NLP as a service via the AI language apps Wordtune and Wordtune Read, has developed a new system of natural language processing that could prove to be a game-changer in the way computers process language.

The company’s new framework draws on a host of databases, information sources and applications in order to better parse the way we speak and write. Via communication with weather apps, calculators, currency converters and more, the system is capable of forming a much deeper understanding of natural language.

Dubbed the Modular Reasoning Knowledge and Language System (MRKL) and announced in a new technical paper, its first implementation, Jurassic-X, is available on the company’s development platform, AI21 Studio.

Yoav Shoham, co-founder of AI21 Labs, explained how MRKL solves some of the primary issues in the NLP field today.

“It is impossible for pretrained language models to keep up with dynamic information, such as fluctuating exchange rates, weather forecasts, and constantly updating sources like Wikidata,” Shoham said. “Today, language models are updated on average every three years. A model trained before November 2020 will think that Donald Trump is still the president of the United States, and will have no idea that war is currently raging in Ukraine.

 Screenshot of Wordtune Read's interface. (credit: screenshot) Screenshot of Wordtune Read's interface. (credit: screenshot)

“Another well-known failure is reasoning. Existing models know to answer that 10 minus two is eight, but if we embody the question in a verbal problem – ‘Ronit had 10 apples and she gave two to Yael, how many did she have left?’ – the computer will hang. AI21 Labs’ new system fixes these failures.”

Israel is making major strides in the AI field. Earlier this year, experts and academics throughout the world of Artificial Intelligence gathered for AI Week, a virtual three-day conference hosted by Tel Aviv University and co-founded by Intel.

“The goal is very simple: we would like to be one of the top five countries in the world in AI,” said the conference’s co-founder, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel.

According to the Artificial Intelligence Index Report 2021 published by Stanford University, Israel ranks fourth in the world in terms of private investment capital raised in AI technology as of 2020, behind the US, China and the UK.