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Typical AI these days are question-answering machines. For example, Siri, Alexa and Google Home. But it is always the human asking the questions and the AI answering.

Are there any good examples of an AI that is curious and asks questions of its own accord?

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a good question. I'm not aware of anything at the moment and It's not immediately obvious how that can be achieved. There was that thing with facebook a while back where AI was able "communicate" using a generated "language". An AI asking questions assumes it has something it's trying to solve. And how could it communicate the question that properly represents the "missing information". A peek into Baye's Theorem gives us some direction on how to solve this - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes%27_theorem $\endgroup$
    – Zakk Diaz
    Jul 5 '18 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a related question. $\endgroup$
    – nbro
    Jan 26 '21 at 17:49
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You are referring to 'proactive AI' as opposed to 'reactive AI' like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Bixby, Google Assistant, and others. There hasn't been much progress in this area of AI. Google's recent demonstration of Duplex addresses this to some extent. Some chatbots are proactive. Genesys provides such capability. Check out their video

Azure's bot service has a page on how to implement proactivity and there is another video that walks through the whole process: Learn to build Proactive Bot in 30 Minutes.

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One of the simplest examples that I can think of is "Akinator". At the heart it uses decision trees to narrow down the search. It is not a "questioning" model like QA models used in Alexa, but it does asks questions.

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It's certainly possible to create AI systems that ask questions. Various forms of expert systems and diagnostic support system applications already do that. As to the question of whether or not they are curious, that's one I'll leave to the philosophers. But it is absolutely possible to create an AI that attempts to reason out a solution to a problem, find that it is unable to generate an acceptable answer, and then prompts the user for more information.

One context where this can be done is Abductive Inference systems for medical decision making. I'd refer you to Abductive Inference Models for Diagnostic Problem Solving by Reggia and Peng, or Computer Assisted Medical Decision Making 1 by Reggia and Tuhrim for more on that specific point.

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