World’s Strangest

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Robot Learns Language Like a Baby

When the robocalypse happens, and you find yourself begging for your
life at the foot of our new robot overlords, and when the robot denies
your request in fluent English, and you find yourself thinking "my,
its command of the English language is masterful" then think back
to this momentous instance where scientists taught the robot how to speak
just like they would a baby:

With the help of human instructors, a robot has learned to talk
like a human infant, learning the names of simple shapes and colors.

“Our work focuses on early stages analogous to some characteristics
of a human child of about 6 to 14 months, the transition from babbling
to first word forms,” wrote computer scientists led by Caroline
Lyon of the University of Hertfordshire in a June 13 Public Library
of Science One study.

Named DeeChee, the robot is an iCub,
a three-foot-tall open source humanoid machine designed to resemble
a baby. The similarity isn’t merely aesthetic, but has functional
purpose: Many researchers think certain cognitive processes are shaped
by the bodies in which they occur. A brain in a vat would think and
learn very differently than a brain in a body.


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June 14th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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