This AI Has The Intuition And Thinking Capabilities Of A Baby

Monit Khanna

Scientists are trying their best to get AI to levels as smart as human intelligence and while they’ve done a phenomenal job so far, things that come naturally to humans — such as intuition and impulsive reactions — are almost impossible to be taught to a computer.

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Researchers from the UK in collaboration with AI research laboratory DeepMind have developed an AI system that was capable of learning ‘intuitive physics’ — essentially a commonsense understanding of the mechanics of our universe, similar to that of a human baby.

Dubbed PLATO (abbreviation for Physics Learning Through Auto-encoding and Tracing Objects), the name is inspired by the Greek philosopher.

How does it work?

Babies understand instinctively when an object briefly passing behind another shouldn’t disappear and reappear elsewhere. When it does, babies act surprised. However, the simple rule of continuity along with other basic physical laws hasn’t been this intuitive for AI.

PLATO bridges this gap. Today, there are three concepts that we know from a very young age — permanence ie objects won’t just disappear, solidity ie objects cannot pass through each other, and continuity ie objects move in a consistent pace through space and time.

Researchers have built data sets that cover these three concepts, as well as two additional ones — unchangeableness ie object properties like shape, for instance, doesn’t change, and directional inertia ie objects move in a way that follows the law of inertia.

These concepts were put across via clips of balls falling to the ground, where they were bouncing off surfaces, disappearing behind objects and even reappearing, etc. After training PLATO on it, they put it to the test.

PLATO was later shown videos of impossible scenarios that defied physics and all the laws it had learned, the AI ​​was surprised and was smart enough to detect if something had broken the law of physics.

Scientists Develop AI That Thinks & Has Intuition Like A Baby
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And these happened even when the AI ​​was trained for really short periods of time — as short as just 28 hours in some cases. Researchers also saw that the AI ​​was able to keep the laws in focus even with the specific probe events not occurring.

Researchers ran further tests, different from those in the training data where PLATO showcased stellar understanding of what should and shouldn’t be happening. However, the AI ​​is still not smarter than a 3-month-old baby. The AI ​​wasn’t very surprised when it was shown scenarios that didn’t involve any objects or when the testing and training models were similar.

Researchers explained, “Our modeling work provides a proof-of-concept demonstration that at least some central concepts in intuitive physics can be acquired through visual learning. Although research in some precocial [born in an advanced state] species suggests that certain basic physical concepts can be present from birth, in humans the data suggests that intuitive physics knowledge emerges early in life but can be impacted by visual experience.”

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