New Humanoid Robot Learns Language Like an Infant

Researchers at an English university have created a robot that learns language like an infant. The achievement represents a major advance in the creation of artificial intelligence. 

What's the Latest Development?


Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, England, have created a robot that, like a small child, can learn words through human interaction. Named DeeChee, the iCub robot is meant to function like an infant between six and fourteen months, which can begin discriminating between words and phrases. DeeChee's teachers were chosen from a group of volunteers who were varied "in age, occupation, gender, experience with children and familiarity with computers, to talk to DeeChee exactly how they would if they wanted to teach a real child the words for colors and patterns."

What's the Big Idea?

To date, the most impressive artificially intelligent computers have drawn their abilities from sheer computing power. Machines like Deep Blue, which defeated chess master Garry Kasparov, and IBM's Watson, which proved the best contestant ever on Jeopardy!, were able to make calculations faster than humans. But learning a language is different, and because it does not rely on pure computational power, it has long been the Holy Grail of AI. Achieving a robot that thinks like a child would be an important step in machine intelligence because it would allow more fluid learning, the kind that allow children to develop into adults. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less