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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

What Does It Mean for AI to Understand?

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Illustration shows human and AI attempting to share knowledge.

How can we determine in practice whether a machine can understand?

Credit: Maggie Chiang/Quanta Magazine

Some cognitive scientists have argued that humans rely on an innate, pre-linguistic core knowledge of space, time, and many other essential properties of the world in order to learn and understand language. If we want machines to similarly master human language, we will need to first endow them with the primordial principles humans are born with.

And to assess machines' understanding, we should start by assessing their grasp of these principles, which one might call "infant metaphysics." Training and evaluating machines for baby-level intelligence may seem like a giant step backward, but if true and trustworthy understanding is the goal, this may be the only path to producing machines that can genuinely comprehend.

From Quanta Magazine
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