There are robots that walk like humans and computer algorithms that mimic human behavior. But what about machines that see like humans? That is a project the USC School of Engineering is currently working on.
To develop new algorithms for visual processing, the researchers learn from the human brain and try to transfer two principles to machines: Top-down attention and compositionality. The former refers to the decision tree we automatically engage in when we are looking for something. For example, if you want to find a stapler in an office, you look for it on the desk or on the table, but not at the ceiling. Compositionality refers to our hierarchical way of recognizing objects: You know what a wheel is and you can recognize whether it is on a bike or a car.
– A. Borji, D. N. Sihite, L. Itti, Vision Research 91, 62 (2013).