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How Humans Use Objects in Novel Ways to Solve Problems

By MIT News

December 3, 2020

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines have developed a cognitive model that learns to use objects in novel ways to solve problems, like humans do.

The Sample, Simulate, Update (SSUP) model instantiated three capabilities humans rely on for improvised tool use: a prior conviction that guides people's actions toward those that will make a difference in the scene; the ability to envision the effect of their actions; and a mechanism to rapidly update their beliefs about what actions are likely to yield a solution.

The MIT team arranged a novel task, the Virtual Tools game, in which people must choose one object from a set of "tools" for placement in a two-dimensional, computerized scene to reach a goal. When applied to this game, the CSSUP model solved each puzzle at similar rates and in similar fashions to humans.

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