Scientists trained an AI through the eyes of a child

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for decades Linguists have debated how children learn language. Some think that babies are born as “blank slates” who pick up language only from experience — listening, seeing, and playing with the world. Others argue that experience is not enough and that children’s brains must be hardened to facilitate language acquisition.

A.I Model eg GPT-4 did little to settle the controversy. The way these models learn language—by trawling through reams of text data from millions of web pages—is completely different from what babies experience as babbling.

A team of scientists at New York University tested the question by training A.I A model of the single child experience. Between the ages of six and 25 months, a child named Sam wore a head-mounted camera for an hour a week – about 1% of his waking hours. The camera records what he sees and hears as he plays with toys, enjoys days at the park and interacts with his pet cats. The recording and transcribed audio are fed into one A.IWhich was set up to know that the images and sounds that appeared at the same time were related, but otherwise left to decipher the jumble of colors and speech that Sam experienced.

Despite limited training data, A.I Was able to learn to sort objects and match words. The researchers tested the model by asking it to identify objects that Sam had seen before, such as a chair in his house or one of his toy balls. Given a list of four options, the model chose the correct word 62% of the time, well above 25% of chance. To the researchers’ surprise, the model could also detect chairs and balls that Sam had never seen. The A.I I learned at least 40 different words, but by the end of the test it didn’t match Sam’s vocabulary and language skills.

This researcher recently published in the journal science, I argue that, in order to match words to objects, learning from experience may be sufficient. Suspects, however, doubt that A.I Be able to learn abstract nouns or verbs, and question how similar the learning processes actually are. The mystery of language acquisition lives on.

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