The next Stage of Machine Learning: Teach Robots to Think Like Humans

We're teaching robots to learn in all kinds of new ways.

The human brain is a never-ending source of wonder. In recent years, scientists and engineers have made major progress in figuring out how to replicate key facets of human thinking in machines, thus contributing to a better understanding of the mind. But despite years of research, many processes remain a mystery... at least for now.


A recent experiment from MIT demonstrates the capabilities of machine learning. Researchers have figured out how to make a machine identify certain classes of objects (in this case, handwritten characters) after only having seen a couple examples. By giving the computer information about how the characters were created, the machine was then able to understand the components that make up writing and replicate them itself.


But what about machines being able to identify abstract objects? How do humans always recognize a cup as a cup, regardless of what color, shape, size, or texture it is? And how can we do so even when we only see a portion of the object?

A new study from Georgia Tech researchers displays progress in the creation of machines that can replicate human thinking with regard to “random projection,” as it’s called. The researchers realized that humans use less than 1 percent of the data available about an object to identify it. They believe that their findings explain how humans are able to process all kinds of visual data so quickly in navigating the world on any average day.

The key to the machine's ability to copy humans in this regard is the extent to which researchers have programmed it to replicate the neural networks that humans have. As another example, researchers at UC Berkeley have been using neural network programming to build a robot that can teach itself to walk, just as a toddler would over time.

We’ve clearly come a long way since the early days of computers and robotics. With all the breakthroughs we’ve seen so far, one can’t help but wonder just how smart robots can get?


Image Credit: pogonici via Shutterstock

**

Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time, she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox

Develop mindfulness to boost your creative intelligence

Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.

Image: Big Think
Big Think Edge
  • Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
  • Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Google Maps apologizes for going rogue in Japan

The navigation tool has placed a school in the sea, among other things.

Strange Maps
  • Google has apologized for the sudden instability of its maps in Japan.
  • Errors may stem from Google's long-time map data provider Zenrin – or from the cancellation of its contract.
  • Speculation on the latter option caused Zenrin shares to drop 16% last Friday.
Keep reading Show less

MIT study: 24-hour fasting regenerates stem cells, doubles metabolism

This gives credence to the 5-2 diet, which has recently gained in popularity thanks to a large celebrity following.

Pexels, user @Deena
popular

Chances are you're probably thinking about food right now in some capacity. Maybe it's close to dinner and you're wondering what you are going to eat. Maybe you had a really good lunch and are fondly reminiscing about your BLT, or whatnot. Or maybe, just maybe, you're thinking about not eating food for a while. 

Keep reading Show less

A new theory explains Jupiter’s perplexing origin

A new computer model solves a pair of Jovian riddles.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)
Surprising Science
  • Astronomers have wondered how a gas giant like Jupiter could sit in the middle of our solar system's planets.
  • Also unexplained has been the pair of asteroid clusters in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit.
  • Putting the two questions together revealed the answer to both.
Keep reading Show less