Can Super Mario Save Artificial Intelligence?
Human brains are remarkably inefficient in some key ways: our memories are lousy; our grasp of logic is shallow, and our capacity to do arithmetic is dismal. Our collective cognitive shortcomings are so numerous Iâ€™ve written a book about them. And yet, in some ways, we continue to far outstrip the very silicon-based computers that so thoroughly kick our carbon-based behinds in arithmetic, logic, and memory.
Take, for example, our capacity to flexibly learn new things. Sure, I.B.M. has built monstrously fast computers to play chess and â€œJeopardy!,â€ but Deep Blue and Watson were purpose-built, dedicated machines that excel only at the particular games for which they were built; Watson, built to conquer the game show â€œJeopardy!,â€ would be hard-pressed to play chess. Your average ten-year-old, in contrast, can learn to play any number of games and well, if not quite at a world-class level.
How do human beings manage to be so flexible, and what would it take to make a machine equally supple in learning new things?