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China introduces the world's first 'AI child'

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Chinese scientists recently announced the creation of the world’s first “artificial intelligence child.”

What she does: Unveiled at the Frontiers of General Artificial Intelligence Technology Exhibition in Beijing in late January, Tong Tong, or “Little Girl” in English, is a virtual AI entity with abilities akin to those of a 3- or 4-year-old child, the South China Morning Post reported. Tong Tong can learn on her own, assign tasks to herself, interpret human intentions and, unlike typical large language models (LLMs), display emotions such as joy, anger and grief.

“Tong Tong possesses a mind and strives to understand the common sense taught by humans,” an introductory video stated. “She discerns right from wrong, expresses her attitudes in various situations, and has the power to shape the future.”

Who made her: Tong Tong was developed by the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence (BIGAI), which is spearheaded by renowned computer scientist, applied mathematician and cognitive AI scholar Zhu Songchun. Zhu reportedly left his professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2020 to establish the institute.

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AI entities must comprehend complex environments and possess a wide range of skills to achieve general artificial intelligence, according to the researchers. Thus, the team also developed the Tong Test, which assesses AI across dimensions such as vision, language, cognition, motion and learning, along with values ranging from physiological to social needs.

What's next: With nearly 100 specialized tasks and over 50 general tasks for testing general artificial intelligence, the Tong Test aims to ensure that AI can seamlessly integrate into human environments. This innovative approach marks a new direction in AI testing, emphasizing practical abilities and values for developing AI that benefits society.

Tong Tong, for her part, is expected to coexist with humans in the future. Visitors at the exhibition reportedly watched her adjust a picture frame, clean after spilled milk and perform other tasks.

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