Why humans learn faster than AI—for now


So what makes humans so much better? It turns out that we do not approach this game with a blank slate. A human will see that he or she has control over the robot, and that the robot should avoid fire, climb ladders, jump over gaps, and avoid a frowning enemy to reach the princess. All this is thanks to prior knowledge that certain objects are good while others (with frowns or flames) are bad, that platforms support objects while ladders can be climbed, that things that look the same behave in the same way, that gravity pulls objects down, and even what “objects” are: things that are separate from other things and have different properties.

The insight may not be incredibly surprising, but the experiment these researchers ran was really fascinating, and you can replicate it yourself on the website. It turns out that you are also not going to be good at beating this very simple game once your priors are stripped away.


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