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

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less