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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Will AI ever be Smarter than a Baby?

Thoughtful piece, with many links ...

By Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A collection of observations, news and resources on the changing nature of innovation, technology, leadership, and other subjects.

Will AI Ever Be Smarter Than a Baby?

The Ultimate Learning Machines - WSJI recently listened to a fascinating podcast where NY Times columnist Ezra Klein interviewed Berkeley psychologist Aliston Gopney     . Professor Gopney is best known for her research in cognitive science, particularly the study of children’s learning and development. She’s written extensively on the developmental phases of the human brain from babies to adults.

Gopnik, a member of the Berkeley AI Research group, has also been exploring the differences between human and machine intelligence, more specifically, what babies can teach us about AI. She’s long argued that babies and young children are smarter than we might think. In some ways, they’re even smarter than adults, let alone way smarter than the most advanced AIs.  

What do we mean by intelligence?

In 1994 the Wall Street Journal published the Mainstream Science on Intelligence, an article that included a definition that was agreed to by 52 leading academic researchers in fields associated with intelligence:

“Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings - ‘catching on,’ ‘making sense’ of things, or ‘figuring out’ what to do.”

This is a very good definition of general intelligence, - the ability to effectively address a wide range of goals in different environments. It’s the kind of intelligence that’s long been measured in IQ tests, and that, for the foreseeable future, only humans have. On the other hand, specialized intelligence, - the ability to effectively address well-defined, specific goals in a given environment, - is the kind of task-oriented intelligence that’s part of many human jobs. Over the past decade, our increasingly capable AI systems have achieved or surpassed human levels of performance in selected applications including image and speech recognition, language translation, skin cancer classification, and breast cancer detection.

Psychologists have further identified two distinct types of human intelligence: fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is the ability to quickly learn new skills, adapt to new environments and solve novel reasoning problems. It requires considerable raw processing power, generally peaks in our 20s and starts diminishing as we get older. Crystallized intelligence is the know-how and expertise which we accumulate over decades. It’s the ability to use our stocks of knowledge and experiences to make wise decisions. It generally increases through our 40s, peaks in our 50s, and does not diminish until late in life.  ... '

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