Google’s AI on LSD: what a robot’s dreams look like

In his book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, one of my favorite writers Philip K. Dick explores what sets apart humans from androids. The theme is more valid today than it ever was, considering the great leaps in artificial intelligence we’re seeing coming off major tech labs around the world, like Google’s. Take for instance how the company employs advanced artificial neural networks to zap through a gazillion images, interpret them and return the right one you’re looking for when you make a query using the search engine. Though nothing like a human brain, the networks uses 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons with each layer doing its job in incremental order to come to an “answer” by the final output layer is finished. While not dead-on, the network seems to return results better than anything we’ve seen before and as a by-product, it can also “dream.” These artificial dreams output some fascinating images to say the least, going from virtually nothing (white noise) to something’s that out of a surrealist painting. Who says computers can’t be creative?

Google just released a chatbot that’s trying to figure out the purpose of life

Don’t you just hate it when you’re looking for support for a service or app you bought, only to be greeted by some monosyllabic robot ? Ok, that can happen just as well when dealing with outsourced tech support, but at least you know you’re talking to a real person. Well, that might change sooner than you might think. The singularity is getting closer by the moment. Just take a look at Google’s new chatbot which according to the developers has moderate “natural language understanding”. In other words, it can roll with the punches and continue the conversation by itself without following predefined question – answer. Of course, after a while you can still tell it’s not human (fails Turing test), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. Have a look at how it answers to “what’s the purpose of life?”.

Robot learns by doing. Starts off plain stupid, then grows smarter – just like us

Using a novel deep learning algorithm, a team at UC Berkeley demonstrated a robot that learns on the fly and performs various tasks that weren’t pre-programmed. It starts off shy and clumsy, but eventually gets the ahead of it. For instance, after it stomped a bit around its environment, when given a new task, but with no further instructions, the robot learned by itself to assemble LEGO bricks or twist caps onto pill bottles.

Computer squares off against professional poker players – and loses badly

Even the best chess players are no match for computers these days, but computers are still struggling when it comes to games that have a random or unknown component. In games like Bridge or Poker, humans still hold the crown. Scientists from the Carnegie Mellon University tried to change that, by designing Claudico – a computer program built to defeat humans. But Claudico lost, badly.

Anti-robot protest rallied at SXSW is just a marketing stunt – the message isn’t

About two dozen University of Texas students gathered on Saturday at the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival to voice their concerns about the risks artificial intelligence might pose to humanity. Though largely ignored by hipster pedestrians nearby, the protest does raise some legitimate concerns even though technology is still far off from any Skynet scenario. Thankfully, we might never cross this SciFi threshold.

Algorithm beats any opponent at heads-up Texas hold’em poker

We’ve come to understand that human players will never stand a chance against a computer with enough fire power at  finite and open games like checkers or chess. Poker is sensibly different because the computer doesn’t know his human opponent’s hands. No matter, a group of computer scientists  from the University of Alberta in Canada have programmed an AI to

Meet SPAUN – the most complex artificial human brain yet

Needless to say, the human brain is the most complex neural structure encountered so far. While a computer can outwork a human in many cognitive tasks, our brain can perform a variety of tasks that no computing machine can even scratch the surface. Just think a bit about imagination – how could a computer ever come as close as generating

Man beats computer at crossword puzzles – so far

As years pass, computers start beating us in more and more fields: math is out of the question, chess, and even jeopardy; but in crossword puzzles, man still beats computer – and easily. In a contest held in New York this weekend, a program designed to work crossword puzzles, came in 141st among 600 human puzzle solvers. Matthew Ginsberg, who

CalTech soup displays brainlike behaviour

Researchers from the CalTech University have managed to create the first artificial neural network from DNA, a circuit built out of interactinig molecules that can recall memories based on an incomplete pattern, in pretty much the same way a brain works. “Although brainlike behaviors within artificial biochemical systems have been hypothesized for decades,” says Lulu Qian, a Caltech senior postdoctoral

Japan wants rockets with artificial intelligence

The Japanese seem to have not lost one inch of the determination to push science forward after the major earthquake, the tsunamis it generated, and the colateral damage that comes with such a tragic event (power shortages, infrastructure damage, and most of all, radiation danger from nuclear plants). They are now trying to trim the costs of space rockets by