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Baidu’s AI is learning the same way a human baby does

Posted: 31 March 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Chinese search giant Baidu is teaching its virtual AI to navigate the world in the same way a parent teaches a baby.

Researchers taught an AI agent to navigate 2D virtual world called XWORLD using language and images to convey information to the agent. The AI can take this information and complete the task its set as well as applying it to future skills.

Baidu’s experiment tackles one of the major obstacles the development of the technology faces: Transferring skills from one domain to another. The researchers taught the AI agent language in much the same way that humans would teach each other. The AI was given natural language commands like “Please navigate to the apple,” or “Can you move to the grid between the apple and the banana?” and was rewarded for completing the right action. The agent could understand language that had previously been meaningless to it and could adjust its actions based on these commands.

Artificial intelligence expert Andrew Ng steps down from Chinese tech giant Baidu

Baidu says that the result of this experiment “brings us one step closer to teaching machines to learn like humans do,” and this could lead to the development of a home robot that could learn from its “family.”

Baidu’s goal is to eventually teach a physical robot in a realistic environment using natural language. It plans to follow the current experiments with those using an AI in a 3D environment, which is more realistic but would present new challenges to the AI.

The accomplishment likely comes as a relief to Baidu, who are keen to cement their status a key AI player after losing Andrew Ng as head of AI.

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