Imagine there are two boxes on a table — a box of saltine crackers and a box of granulated sugar. You inform robot with voice commands about the contents of each box and then direct it, “Pick up the snack.” Deducing that sugar is a raw material and, therefore, unlikely to be someone’s snack, the robot instead selects the crackers.

That scenario is being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), as they look at robot memory in a new way.

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