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Jon Snow may know nothing, but this AI bot can answer any Game of Thrones question

It’s hard to find someone who isn’t a fan of “Game of Thrones.” The TV show, which returns Sunday, has reached peaks of popularity that few shows do, and draws in fans of all shapes and sizes — even computers.

Maluuba, a Canadian startup, posted a YouTube video on Friday showing its artificial-intelligence software reading the synopsis for the fifth season of “Game of Thrones’” and immediately knowing all of the show’s plot lines. It’s the equivalent to a human, let’s call him “John” for this example, who knows nothing about the show, has never seen it, takes one look at a Wikipedia page and instantaneously knows everything that’s happening.

“Who stabbed Jon Snow?” the Maluuba engineer asks the AI software. “Night’s Watch,” the software answers, not long after first being introduced to the HBO hit show. Ask Siri the same thing on your iPhone and she’ll either tell you she has no idea what you’re talking about or point you to a list of Bing search results.

For the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence, this is a major breakthrough. Maluuba could soon make many of your smart devices more useful. For example, this type of technology could one day help humans sift through documents quickly to find the small bits of buried information they need by simply typing a question in conversational English.

Related: HBO unveils 9 more captivating photos from Game of Thrones season 6 

Not sure who trained Arya Stark in season 5? Just ask the Maluuba bot. Having trouble setting up your new sound system so you can hear every gory sword stab in Game of Thrones perfectly? Feed the owner’s manual into the AI and ask it your specific question. Curious if George R. R. Martin will ever finish writing the last Game of Thrones book? Just kidding — not even artificial intelligence can help us solve that mystery.

The hope is that eventually this technology will be able to take in huge troves of documents, such as the recently leaked Panama Papers, process them and reduce the amount of work humans have to do.

“I think you’re going to see some exciting things that are going to come out over the next couple of months,” said Mohamed Musbah, Maluuba vice president of product. “To truly solve fundamental language understanding to the extent that human beings can do it, if we even accomplish 10 percent of that that’s a huge stride forward.”

Maluuba makes the artificial intelligence software used by numerous products around the world, including Siri-like voice assistants on some phones and smart home products. The company began working on this project six months ago, starting by feeding children’s books to its bot and asking it multiple choice questions. The “Game Of Thrones” demo shows the bot can now process larger chunks of text and answer more difficult, open-ended queries.

The theory is that teaching AI how to read documents and learn concepts the same way that humans do will ultimately yield AI-powered products that are more useful than the ones we have today.

“It’s literally how human beings work,” Musbah said. “If you give me a chemistry work, I won’t understand all the specific concepts that exist in that chemistry book, but I can read through it and I can build my own concepts against it.”

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