A computer program that learns to “imagine” the world shows how AI can think more like us

rotating colorful shapes
June 14, 2018

DeepMind’s advance could lead to machines that can make better sense of a scene.

Machines will need to get a lot better at making sense of the world on their own if they are ever going to become truly intelligent.

DeepMind, the AI-focused subsidiary of Alphabet, has taken a step in that direction by making a computer program that builds a mental picture of the world all by itself. You might say that it learns to imagine the world around it.

The system, which uses what DeepMind’s researchers call a generative query network (GQN), looks at a scene from several angles and can then describe what it would look like from another angle.

This might seem trivial, but it requires a relatively sophisticated ability to learn about the physical world. In contrast to many AI vision systems, the DeepMind program makes sense of a scene more the way a person does. Even if something is partly occluded, for example, it can reason about what’s there...

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