Practice Questions on Reading Comprehension
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Common Information

Delivering a speech at an institutional gathering recently on the topic of ‘Rethinking religions’, a prominent, MP, said that by the middle of this century religion would be very different, that its present form would be completely unrecognisable, given the changes brought about by an emerging information society. "Religion as we know it will not be the same in 50 years. There has been a rapid democratisation of the world. The world is a much smaller place. The pronouncements of religions can therefore not remain the same," he said. More importantly, he maintained that some notions central to religion would not survive the future: "You have to stay with the times or you'll be left behind."

One wonders, if he had also been sitting in the audience listening to himself would his jaw have dropped‘? For if there's one thing we all know that doesn't change, it's religion. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc, have lived comfortably through many technological and other intellectual upheavals in the past such as the Renaissance, printing and the industrial revolution, for instance, and have emerged even more stubborn and ossified if anything afterwards. Sure, peripheral elements change —heretics are no longer burned at the stake, sati is outlawed — but "notions central to religion" not surviving, say, the Internet, is laughable. 

That's because the central notion of all religions, concepts that are cold welded to the first few pages of any scripture, is that there is a God who is the creator of all things including us, that we have a duty to love and worship Him and that He stands for everything which is good. These things have so far reliably demonstrated a sure fire ability to endure millennia.

On the other hand, consider Parsis. More and more members of these modern day descendants of migrants who fled persecution in Iran more than 1,000 years ago, are turning to new technology to keep their ancient Zoroastrian religion alive and kicking. "Websites, blogs, on line directories and match making portals are being used by the close knit but scattered and shrinking community to stay in touch and true to the 3,500 year old faith," reports AFP. In fact, they're doing exactly the opposite of what our prominent MP fears: they're staying with the times for fear of being left behind. It's what all religions have always done in order to keep the faith.

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 26

Q26.

Common Information Question: 5/5

"...and have emerged even more stubborn and ossified." What has emerged more stubborn and ossified?

A.

Religion

B.

Christianity, Islam and Hinduism

C.

Industrial revolution

D.

Renaissance

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Common Information

Currently the focus of research into artificial intelligence (AI) is on relatively limited applications, including guiding airplanes and missiles, understanding language, detecting credit card fraud, and diagnosing medical conditions from electrocardiograms. While these avenues certainly contain promise for commercial and industrial interests, the populace at large typically is more interested in a slightly less consequential application of AI. In 1997, Deep Blue, a chess playing computer program, defeated grand master Gary Kasparov in a tournament, marking the first time a computer was able to beat a human world champion.

But these more "frivolous" applications of AI are actually valuable indicators of the state of technology. Computer engineers are constantly reviving and reinventing the programming algorithms in an effort to make computers think more like people do. And the exponential increases in processing and storage technology are allowing artificial intelligence researchers to greatly increase the power of AI programs while simultaneously reducing the size and computing needs of the machines. For example, the Deep Blue program required 256 specialized processors to analyze the millions and millions of combinations of moves. Each of these processors was about one hundred times faster than a standard home computer, which means Deep Blue was about 25,600 times faster than a 1997 personal computer.

Only five years later, in 2002, AI engineers unleashed a new chess playing program, Deep Fritz. Deep Fritz played Vladimir Kramnik, the highest ranked chess player in the world, to a draw, but this result was anything but a failure to the AI community. Whereas Deep Blue required 256 processors to achieve its victory, Deep Fritz had a mere eight. Deep Blue could analyze 200 million moves per second, but Deep Fritz could deal with only 2.5 million. Yet Deep Fritz’s chess playing abilities more closely resemble those of a person. Deep Blue was able to defeat Kasparov by brute strength alone, calculating millions of possible moves and counter moves. Deep Fritz played Kramnik to a draw by using advanced pattern recognition skills, which allowed it to be competitive despite considering fewer move combinations.

Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 27

Q27.

Common Information Question: 1/4

The main idea of the passage is that:

A.

computer chess programs will soon be able to defeat any human challenger

B.

computer chess programs are now being designed to be more efficient and perform fewer calculations

C.

certain applications of AI technology provide insight into advances in the field

D.

the public pays too much attention to frivolous applications of AI technology

E.

the Deep Fritz chess program is more successful than the Deep Blue program

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 28

Q28.

Common Information Question: 2/4

According to the passage, the AI community did not view Deep Fritz’s draw as a failure because:

A.

Kramnik was a higher ranked chess player than Kasporov and was thus harder to defeat

B.

researchers did not expect Deep Fritz to win because it only had eight processors

C.

Deep Fritz’s performance suggested that programmers were approaching one of their goals

D.

Deep Blue’s victory had already proven that a computer could beat a grand champion in chess

E.

human players had five years to adapt to competing against chess programs

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 29

Q29.

Common Information Question: 3/4

The author implies that human chess players:

A.

will not lose to Deep Fritz

B.

will soon be unable to defeat most computer chess programs

C.

are not able to analyze possible move combinations when playing chess

D.

rely on pattern recognition skills when playing chess

E.

could potentially beat Deep Fritz but not Deep Blue

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Moderate Reading Comprehension Question - 30

Q30.

Common Information Question: 4/4

The primary purpose of the above passage is to:

A.

contrast the abilities of two computer programs

B.

encourage researchers to pursue more serious inquiries

C.

detail the state of research in a particular field

D.

compare human chess players to computer chess programs

E.

challenge a long-held assumption about AI

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