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Scientists create ‘artificial intelligence baby’ that can learn common sense

·2-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Scientists have created an artificial intelligence that is able to think and learn like a baby.

The system is able to grasp the basic common sense rules of the world in the same way as humans can, the researchers who create it say.

The breakthrough could not only help advance AI research but also the ways we understand the human mind, scientists say.

Children’s minds are particularly interesting to AI researchers, since they are able to grasp rules and common sense in a way that remains largely mysterious. Researchers have suggested that computers could be successful in mimicking this system, and that it might be better to simulate a child’s brain and teach it rather than attempting to copy the workings of the adult mind.

One of their capabilities is “intuitive physics” – the knowledge we have about how things interact that comes to us at an early age. Humans know, for instance, that a ball will fall on the floor if the person holding it is dropped, and realise that at a very young age, but it is still unclear how exactly we work that out.

Artificial intelligence systems have struggled with such concepts, and even advanced computers are unable to grasp those rules in the same way a three-month-old child can. But now scientists have created a new system that was able to learn a range of different physical concepts.

The deep learning system is named PLATO, the authors write. It was trained by watching objects interact in a variety of ways: balls falling to the ground, rolling around, and bouncing off each other.

To test it, it was then shown videos that contained impossible scenes, in which the physics did not make sense. Researchers then found the system expressed its own kind of surprise, in the same way that real babies do.

It was able to learn such physics in just 28 hours of watching videos, the authors report.

The findings are reported in two new papers, ‘Intuitive physics learning in a deep-learning model inspired by developmental psychology’ and ‘Can a computer think like a baby?’, published in Nature Human Behaviour.

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