child's play (Robert Zatorre )

Subject: child's play
From:    Robert Zatorre  <MD37(at)MUSICA.MCGILL.CA>
Date:    Tue, 27 May 1997 09:34:08 -0500

Dear List Not to change the topic from all the exchanges about oscillating networks and all, but here's a lighter question (perhaps), especially for you modelling/AI types. Picture the following scenario: Junior sits in front of the TV watching Sesame Street. A few days later, Daddy hums the Sesame St. tune, and junior smilingly says "dat Big Bird song!" and proceeds to sing along. Notwithstanding the fact that Dad is singing in a different key, much faster, and with a voice timbre instead of instrumental, Junior has no trouble recognizing and generating the tune. Now, this seems to me to indicate that quite a sophisticated bit of pattern-recognition is going on in Junior's brain, with no explicit instruction either. My question: am I correct in assuming that, in fact, this skill is at present well beyond the abilities of any computer algorithm? Are there actual computational systems out there that can accomplish what Junior does so effortlessly? Any impressions you all may have about this would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance Robert Zatorre

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