Tag Archives | Artificial Intelligence

Don’t Ask Siri About Tiananmen Square

Apple has unveiled Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking versions of iPhone voice-controlled personality Siri, known for her subservient manner and witicisms. But Siri isn’t willing to crack a joke about everything. It may or may not be a glitch, but she really does not want to discuss Tiananmen Square with you, so stick to asking questions about the weather and where to buy things. The Wall Street Journal writes:

Some users have tested her devotion to free speech by asking her questions about the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown—a topic she seems loathe to broach. One screenshot posted to Twitter shows Siri responding to the question “Do you know about the Tiananmen incident?” with the answer: “I couldn’t find any appointments related to ‘Do you know about Tiananmen.’” A second try with the question rephrased – “What happened on June 4, 1989?”—produced an even stranger response: “I’m sorry, the person you are looking for is not in your address book.”

A[nother] screenshot posted suggested Siri wasn’t even able to provide directions to Tiananmen Square.

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The Robot Author Has Arrived

dadoesWe can all agree that it’s O.K. for robots to take over unpleasant jobs — like cleaning up nuclear waste. But how could we have allowed them to commandeer one of the most gratifying occupations, that of author?

Via the New York Times, Pagan Kennedy looks into the phenomenon of android authors, and finds that their works are already being published and sold on Amazon:

One day, I stumbled across a book on Amazon called “Saltine Cracker.” It didn’t make sense: who would pay $54 for a book entirely about perforated crackers? The book was co-edited by someone called Lambert M. Surhone — a name that sounds like one of Kurt Vonnegut’s inventions. According to Amazon, Lambert M. Surhone has written or edited more than 100,000 titles, on every subject from beekeeping to the world’s largest cedar bucket. He was churning out books at a rate that was simply not possible for a human being.

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Disturbing Conversation Between Chatbots

Via Cornell's Creative Machines Lab, two robots are forced into an uncomfortable conversation that touches on God and other existential matters. (Both are suspicious that the other may have android origins, but neither wants to admit it.) It's even more disconcerting to imagine robots someday having such discussions without human supervision and coming to epiphanies concerning their robotic nature.
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Test Tube DNA Brain Gets Quiz Questions Right

Neuron-SEM-2A step closer to artificial intelligence? Discovery News reports:

A team of researchers lead by Lulu Qian from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have for the first developed an artificial neural network — that is, the beginnings of a brain — out of DNA molecules. And when quizzed, the brain answered the questions correctly.

They turned to molecules because they knew that before the neural-based brain evolved, single-celled organisms showed limited forms of intelligence. These microorganisms did not have brains, but instead had molecules that interacted with each other and spurred the creatures to search for food and avoid toxins. The bottom line is that molecules can act like circuits, processing and transmitting information and computing data.

The Caltech used DNA molecules specifically for the experiment, because these molecules interact in specific ways determined by the sequence of their four bases: adenine (abbreviated A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T).

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Can AI-Powered Games Create Super-Intelligent Humans?

EinsteinA technology CEO sees game artificial intelligence as the key to a revolution in education, predicting a synergy where games create smarter humans who then create smarter games.

Citing lessons drawn from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, Alex Peake, founder of Primer Labs, sees the possibility of a self-fueling feedback loop which creates “a Moore’s law for artificial intelligence,” with accelerating returns ultimately generating the best possible education outcomes.

“What the computer taught me was that there was real muggle magic …” writes Peake. And he reaches a startling conclusion.

“Once we begin relying on AI mentors for our children and we get those mentors increasing in sophistication at an exponential rate, we’re dipping our toe into symbiosis between humans and the AI that shape them.

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Scientists Create Artificial Brain With 12-Second Memory

Petri-dish-brain-650The saddest thought ever: if you say ‘I love you’ to the tiny Cheerio-shaped brain in a petri dish, twelve seconds later it won’t remember. PopSci reports:

The technicolor ring is an artificial microbrain, derived from rat brain cells–just 40 to 60 neurons in total–that is capable of about 12 seconds of short-term memory.

Developed by a team at the University of Pittsburgh, the brain was created in an attempt to artificially nurture a working brain into existence so that researchers could study neural networks and how our brains transmit electrical signals and store data so efficiently. The did so by attaching a layer of proteins to a silicon disk and adding brain cells from embryonic rats that attached themselves to the proteins and grew to connect with one another in the ring.

But as if the growing of a tiny, functioning, donut-shaped brain in a petri dish wasn’t enough, the team found that when they stimulate the neurons with electricity, the pulse would circulate the microbrain for a full 12 seconds.

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The Race To Built A Computer That Acts Perfectly Human

GoldPrizeAMT Computers may now be able to win on Jeopardy, but they still cannot quite trick us into thinking that they are flesh and blood. Writing for the The Atlantic, Brian Christian discusses taking part in the annual Turing Test, the goal of which is to design a computer that thinks and talks as a human does, and to fool judges into believing that they are chatting with a living person:

Each year for the past two decades, the artificial-intelligence community has convened for the field’s most anticipated and controversial event—a meeting to confer the Loebner Prize on the winner of a competition called the Turing Test. The test is named for the British mathematician Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science, who in 1950 attempted to answer one of the field’s earliest questions: can machines think? That is, would it ever be possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to be thinking, to be intelligent, to have a mind?

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Google’s Self-Driving Cars Are On California Roads (Now!)

While it's entirely possible that Google's AI cars are actually better driven than many of the human-controlled vehicles they are sharing the roads with, I'm kind of glad I'm not in California! John Markoff reports on the latest scariness from Google for the New York Times:
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may have glimpsed a Toyota Prius with a curious funnel-like cylinder on the roof. Harder to notice was that the person at the wheel was not actually driving. The car is a project of Google, which has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver...
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A Machine That Teaches Itself

DARPA and Google seemed to be joined at the hip these days… From the New York Times:

Give a computer a task that can be crisply defined — win at chess, predict the weather — and the machine bests humans nearly every time. Yet when problems are nuanced or ambiguous, or require combining varied sources of information, computers are no match for human intelligence.

Browse the NELL Knowledge Base

Browse the NELL Knowledge Base

Few challenges in computing loom larger than unraveling semantics, understanding the meaning of language. One reason is that the meaning of words and phrases hinges not only on their context, but also on background knowledge that humans learn over years, day after day.

Since the start of the year, a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, supported by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Google, and tapping into a research supercomputing cluster provided by Yahoo, has been fine-tuning a computer system that is trying to master semantics by learning more like a human.

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Robots Have Been Taught How to Deceive

DecepticonsThere’s just not something right about this. Duncan Geere writes in Wired UK:

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology may have made a terrible, terrible mistake: They’ve taught robots how to deceive.

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Military robots capable of deception could trick battlefield foes who aren’t expecting their adversaries to be as smart as a real soldier might be, for instance. But when machines rise up against humans and the robot apocalypse arrives, we’re all going to be wishing that Ronald Arkin and Alan Wagner had kept their ideas to themselves.

The pair detailed how they managed it in a paper published in the International Journal of Social Robotics. Two robots — one black and one red — were taught to play hide and seek. The black, hider, robot chose from three different hiding places, and the red, seeker, robot had to find him using clues left by knocked-over colored markers positioned along the paths to the hiding places.

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