Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagDavid Nield

Brain development during pregnancy of unborn baby. 3D rendered illustration.

Study: Babies Start Learning Their Home Language Before Birth

Neuroscience researchers found that newborns responded better to a folk tale in French than in Spanish or English — when French was their mothers’ native language

Just how tiny children, who hardly know anything at all, learn their native language with ease is still largely a mystery. But a recent article in Science Advances offers evidence that, when a child hears speech before birth, the complex neurological processes that enable early acquisition of the language are stimulated. From the open access paper: Human infants acquire language with amazing ease. This feat may begin early, possibly even before birth (1–5), as hearing is operational by 24 to 28 weeks of gestation (6). The intrauterine environment acts as a low-pass filter, attenuating frequencies above 600 Hz (2, 7). As a result, individual speech sounds are suppressed in the lowpass–filtered prenatal speech signal, but prosody, i.e., the melody and Read More ›

supercomputer neural network

Two Computer Doomsday Scenarios: How Likely Are They?

One features a computer superintelligence beyond human comprehension and the other features a computer that destroys the world for an algorithmic reward

In an open-access paper last year at the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, a research group concluded that a computer superintelligence, if developed, could not be contained. It would be a HAL 9000 that couldn’t just be turned off. Science writer David Nield explains: The catch is that controlling a super-intelligence far beyond human comprehension would require a simulation of that super-intelligence which we can analyze (and control). But if we’re unable to comprehend it, it’s impossible to create such a simulation. Rules such as ‘cause no harm to humans’ can’t be set if we don’t understand the kind of scenarios that an AI is going to come up with, suggest the authors of the new paper. Once a computer Read More ›