Cognitive Science

AI won't peak at human intelligence


Over the past few years, AI has dominated news cycles and captured the imagination of entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers alike. We can see the potential: self-driving transportation on-demand, robotic assistants in the home, and Amazon Echo version 14.0 to do things the human mind could never even contemplate. That future isn't far off -- a decade or so, maybe. But as much as we talk and read about AI, many of us still think about it in the wrong way. People compare artificial intelligence to human intelligence too much and often see human intellect as the end goal for AI.

Bearded Dragons Are Dumber Because of Climate Change

National Geographic News

Bearded dragons that incubated at warmer temperatures are slower learners as adults. Many species, including humans, struggle to survive when temperatures rise too high. But even small increases can affect animals, causing subtle changes in physiology or behavior that alter how they fare. For some lizards, the effects of heat may, somewhat literally, be a no-brainer. A new study published in Royal Society Open Science has found that a temperature increase on the scale expected from climate change can make bearded dragons dumber.

Survey ranks Japanese kids' group problem-solving skills at No. 2, behind Singapore

Japan Times >> News

A 2015 survey of 52 countries and economies ranked Japan second behind Singapore in collaborative problem-solving skills among 15-year-old students, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday. The top four spots were occupied by those who participated from Asia, with Hong Kong and South Korea ranking third and fourth, respectively, while Canada and Estonia were tied for fifth. Among 32 OECD countries surveyed, Japan was best. According to the OECD, few efforts have been made to assess students' collective problem-solving skills despite the trait being much in demand in modern workplaces. The survey was the first-ever assessment in this area conducted as part of the Program for International Student Assessment, the OECD said.

The inevitability of artificial intelligence


In its hospital complex in New York City, leading cancer center Memorial Sloane Kettering is partnering with IBM to create the medicine of the future. There, oncology specialists have been teaching Watson, a cognitive computing system probably best known for beating humans at the TV game show Jeopardy, how to interpret cancer patients' clinical information and identify personalized, evidence-based treatment options. Watson mimics the human brain, digesting terabytes of data on certain cancers. Today, it is no smarter than the cumulative knowledge of the people who feed it information or the human-produced research it absorbs. But given the exponential growth in the amount of data on cancers coming available and the machine's ability to "learn," recognize patterns, and summon information instantaneously, it may be one day.

Brain training doesn't improve your general intelligence

Daily Mail

From doing Sudoku every morning to playing more chess to learning a musical instrument, lots of people try different ways to become smarter and improve their memory. Thirty-five years after a landmark memory training experiment in 1982, have scientists really found any foolproof way to make us more intelligent? In a new paper, researchers have looked through several cognitive training programmes and find they actually don't improve our general cognitive and academic skills. Writing for The Conversation, PhD Candidate Giovanni Sala and Professor Fernand Gobet from the University of Liverpool say the general public should be fully aware of the benefits - and limits - of training the brain. Music instruction does not seem to exert any true effect on skills outside of music.

Intel looks to Nervana as a path to artificial intelligence


To get a sense of computer scientist Naveen Rao, just take a look at his hands. The 42-year-old has busted all 10 of his fingers over a lifetime of skiing, skateboarding, bicycling, rollerblading, race-car driving, wrestling and hoops. He's not a clod; he's a risk taker who pushes physical and mental boundaries. On the mental side, he's trying to quicken the computer industry's move into a new age of artificial intelligence by creating chips and software inspired by the structure of the human brain. What sets Rao apart from others attempting the same thing is the fact that Intel last year bought his San Diego company, Nervana, for $400 million.

'Dota 2' and 'League of Legends' players might be smarter than you


People who play multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) like Dota 2 and League of Legends perform better on problem solving and logic tests than those who play shooters Destiny and Battlefield 3, researchers found. "The specific MOBA genre is remarkable in the sense that it already engages a vast number of players across the globe, but more generally, complex, socially-interactive and intellectually demanding video games are now ubiquitous and generate a constant stream of performance data that can be normalized against millions of other players," a team from the University of York in the UK concludes. The scientists found that as participants got older, shooter skills dropped. The performance pattern suggested that younger players had an advantage over older ones and that "performance decreases monotonically with age." Since MOBAs tend to favor more strategy and planning than twitch reflexes, this might not be too surprising.

From data deluge to intelligent insights: Adopting cognitive computing to unlock value for marketing and sales


Cognitive computing is the game-changing technology that could be the answer to marketers' and sellers' prayers. It could also be one of the most disruptive forces their functions face. Armed with insights about customers at every touchpoint, professionals using cognitive computing are able to create and deliver the personalized, intuitive experiences customers expect. But are Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and heads of sales ready to make the cognitive leap? Our study explores the extent to which these executives are embracing cognitive technologies today, the challenges they face and the lessons they can learn from outperforming companies that are already applying cognitive solutions and driving a cognitive-enabled vision for their business.

AI searches for new inspiration


The unpublished work was presented at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. It's one example of different kinds of learning that researchers would like to develop in AI -- and one based on aspects of human intelligence that computers haven't mastered yet. The approach is among a few being tried but one that some researchers are excited about because, as Hassabis recently wrote, "[The human brain is] the only existing proof that such an intelligence is even possible." "A lot of the machine learning people now are turning back to neuroscience and asking what have we learned about the brain over the last few decades, and how we can translate principles of neuroscience in the brain to make better algorithms," says Saket Navlakha, a computer scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences. Last week, he and his colleagues published a paper suggesting that incorporating a strategy used by fruit flies to decide whether to avoid an odor it hasn't encountered before can improve a computer's searches for similar images. The big question for all AI approaches: What problem is a particular algorithm best suited to solve, and will it be better than other AI techniques?

Stress can lead to risky decisions

MIT News

Making decisions is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative elements, such as deciding between a job with a high salary but long hours, and a lower-paying job that allows for more leisure time. MIT neuroscientists have now discovered that making decisions in this type of situation, known as a cost-benefit conflict, is dramatically affected by chronic stress. In a study of mice, they found that stressed animals were far likelier to choose high-risk, high-payoff options. The researchers also found that impairments of a specific brain circuit underlie this abnormal decision making, and they showed that they could restore normal behavior by manipulating this circuit. If a method for tuning this circuit in humans were developed, it could help patients with disorders such as depression, addiction, and anxiety, which often feature poor decision-making.