Asked by: Austin Toole, Falmouth

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To make computers learn, we use software that simulates neurons connected in networks like in a brain. These networks are trained with data until they can learn patterns or make predictions about what data might come next. Methods like these help computers understand speech or recognise car number plates, so in this respect computers can learn a little bit like humans. But humans are still much better – we can learn complex concepts and a vast number of different ideas.

As we still don’t fully understand how brains work, computers are unlikely to be as good at learning as humans for hundreds of years.


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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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