Computer system passes “visual Turing test”

Researchers at MIT, New York University, and the University of Toronto have developed a computer system whose ability to produce a variation of a character in an unfamiliar writing system, on the first try, is indistinguishable from that of humans. That means that the system in some sense discerns what’s essential to the character — its general structure — but also what’s inessential — the minor variations characteristic of any one instance of it. As such, the researchers argue, their system captures something of the elasticity of human concepts, which often have fuzzy boundaries but still seem to delimit coherent categories. It also mimics the human ability to learn new concepts from few examples. It thus offers hope, they say, that the type of computational structure it’s built on, called…


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