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Towards a neurocomputational theory of human understanding

From 5/30/2023 to 5/30/2023

Pr Christopher SUMMERFIELD (Oxford University) has given a talk on Monday 30, May. 

Short abstract:

What does it mean to "understand"? As AI systems become capable of communicating with us in natural language, this question has never been more pressing. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have been reluctant to define understanding at the level of computation or the brain. I offer a definition of "understanding" as the ability to rapidly assemble new mental models on the fly, in order to solve novel problems and share new insights with others (explanation). I will describe studies that have tracked how people transition from naivety to understanding in complex tasks, in which we study (1) the useful structuring of knowledge into mental models, (2) the stage-like transitions (and moments of "insight") that characterise learning, (3) the curricula that promote and accelerate learning,  and (4) the ability to compose new ideas from existing building blocks. This work attempts to describe the first small steps towards a theory of human understanding.

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