We know that computers are faster than us when it comes to calculating numbers. However, there is still something different with us humans that machines would have a difficult time mimicking, and that would be our “innate and intuitive number sense.”
Unlike a computer, a human knows when looking at four cats, four apples and the symbol 4 that they all have one thing in common – the abstract concept of "four" – without even having to count them.
This illustrates the difference between the human mind and the machine, and helps explain why we are not even close to developing AIs with the broad intelligence that humans possess.
However, a new study published in Science Advances reported a very interesting phenomenon: “an AI has spontaneously developed a human-like number sense.”
For a computer to count, we must clearly define what the thing is we want to count. Once we allocate a bit of memory to maintain the counter, we can set it to zero and then add an item each time we find something we want to record. This means that computers can count time (signals from an electronic clock), words (if stored in the computer's memory) and even objects in a digital image.
This last task, however, is a bit challenging, as we have to tell the computer exactly what the objects look like before it can count them. But objects don't always look the same – variation in lighting, position and pose have an impact, as well as any differences in construction between individual examples.
All the successful computational approaches to detecting objects in images work by building up a kind of statistical picture of an object from many individual examples – a type of learning.
Modern AI systems automatically start to being able to detect objects when provided with millions of training images of any sort – just like humans do. These unsupervised learning systems gradually notice parts of the elements in the images that are often present at the same time, and build up layer upon layer of more complicated commonalities.
It seems like we’re getting close to a more human-like artificial intelligence. Perhaps it would only be a matter of time before androids roam the Earth with us.
(Image Credit: Mika Baumeister/ Unsplash)