PITTSBURGH -- Researchers are trying to plant a digital seed for artificial intelligence by letting a massive computer system browse millions of pictures and decide for itself what they all mean.

The Carnegie Mellon University project is called NEIL, short for Never Ending Image Learning. In mid-July it began searching the Internet for images 24/7 and, in tiny steps, is deciding for itself how those images relate to each other. The goal is to recreate what we call common sense -- the ability to learn things without being specifically taught.

For example, the computers have figured out that zebras tend to be found in savannahs and that tigers look somewhat like zebras.

The project is being funded by Google (GOOG) and the Department of Defense's Office of Naval Research.