John Pavlus

Contributing Writer

Illustration of a pair of lungs being scanned in three dimensions, with a status bar that reads “Scanning lung tissue: 60%.”
artificial intelligence

An Idea From Physics Helps AI See in Higher Dimensions

January 9, 2020

The laws of physics stay the same no matter one’s perspective. Now this idea is allowing computers to detect features in curved and higher-dimensional space.

Illustration of cartoon characters working alongside a machine.
artificial intelligence

Machines Beat Humans on a Reading Test. But Do They Understand?

October 17, 2019

A tool known as BERT can now beat humans on advanced reading-comprehension tests. But it’s also revealed how far AI has to go.

The researcher Iyad Rahwan sitting at his desk.
Q&A

The Anthropologist of Artificial Intelligence

August 26, 2019

Iyad Rahwan’s radical idea: The best way to understand algorithms is to observe their behavior in the wild.

Q&A

His Artificial Intelligence Sees Inside Living Cells

July 24, 2019

The computer vision scientist Greg Johnson is building systems that can recognize organelles on sight and show the dynamics of living cells more clearly than microscopy can.

Q&A

Curious About Consciousness? Ask the Self-Aware Machines

July 11, 2019

Consciousness is a famously hard problem, so Hod Lipson is starting from the basics: with self-aware robots that can help us understand how we think.

Abstractions blog

Sum-of-Three-Cubes Problem Solved for ‘Stubborn’ Number 33

March 26, 2019

A number theorist with programming prowess has found a solution to 33 = x³ + y³ + z³, a much-studied equation that went unsolved for 64 years.

Photo of Been Kim
Q&A

A New Approach to Understanding How Machines Think

January 10, 2019

Neural networks are famously incomprehensible, so Been Kim is developing a “translator for humans.”

Q&A

How to Build a Robot That Wants to Change the World

November 1, 2017

And not destroy humanity in the process.

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Wired to Learn: The Next AI

Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious

September 19, 2017

Computer scientists are finding ways to code curiosity into intelligent machines.

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Scientific American, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing series. He lives in Portland, Oregon.