Chapter 7

Learning: The Key to Artificial Intelligence

Newborns are blank slates. Fresh from the womb, they have no way to communicate beyond primal screams, signaling everything from hunger to irritation from a wet diaper. As discussed in Chapter 5, babies are limited to primary components of consciousness. They cannot discriminate between themselves and the surrounding world. They have no concept of “self,” much less of “mother” or “father.” Likewise, they know nothing about such things as “doctors,” “nurses,” “hospitals,” and especially not convoluted economic instruments like “health insurance.”

Yet, in just a few days, an infant can recognize its mother’s voice. In a few months, it can smile. It can reach for objects and orally signal more ...

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