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Researchers attempt to teach computers common sense

Mon., Nov. 25, 2013

PITTSBURGH – Researchers are trying to plant a digital seed for artificial intelligence by letting a massive computer system browse millions of pictures and decide for itself what they all mean.

The system at Carnegie Mellon University is called NEIL, short for Never Ending Image Learning. In mid-July, it began searching the Internet for images 24/7 and, in tiny steps, is deciding for itself how those images relate to each other. The goal is to recreate what we call common sense: the ability to learn things without being specifically taught.

It’s a new approach in the quest to solve computing’s Holy Grail: getting a machine to think on its own using a form of common sense. The project is being funded by Google and the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research.

“Any intelligent being needs to have common sense to make decisions,” said Abhinav Gupta, a professor in the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute.

NEIL uses advances in computer vision to analyze and identify the shapes and colors in pictures, but it is also slowly discovering connections between objects on its own. For example, the computers have figured out that zebras tend to be found in savannahs and that tigers look somewhat like zebras.

In just over four months, the network of 200 processors has identified 1,500 objects and 1,200 scenes and has connected the dots to make 2,500 associations.


 

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