AI develops human-like number sense on its own

May 15, 2019, 8:40 AM EDT
(Source: Nick Hoffman/flickr)
(Source: Nick Hoffman/flickr)

The evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) is fascinating and the pace of it, even more surprising. Not long ago, humans could crow about their exclusive set of natural abilities, such as writing, artistry and others, but this technology is an enviable learner.

The latest victory for AI is its acquisition of “number sense,” the innate ability of humans and many other animals by virtue of which they can estimate the number of items in a set, writes Science News.

The researchers noticed this faculty of AI while training an artificial neural network for a routine task, identifying objects in images. During the exercise, the network developed virtual neurons exhibiting response to specific quantities on its own accord.

The observation is important for two reasons. Firstly, it reflects on AI’s ability to simultaneously acquire a new skill while being trained for a different task. Secondly, the discovery may also offer insights about the origin of number sensitivity in animals.