back to article Is that you, HAL? No, it's NEIL: Google, US Navy pour money into 'associative' AI brain

NEIL hasn't slept or eaten in four months, it's just browsed the internet and tried to figure out connections between aircraft and aircraft carriers, or hot dogs and buns. The Never Ending Image Learner is a new approach to weak artificial intelligence systems that piggybacks on the immense tech fielded by companies like …

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  1. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Pink

    I would have thought there's plenty of pink 'training data' on the internet...

    ... Or so I've been told!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Pink

      Yeah. Once it hits "the chans" everything will dissolve into an orgasmic entropia of Rule 34.

      Zebra vs. Airbus nose cone on the trading floor?

      HELL YEAH!

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    And it was so

    That SkyNet was born.

  3. Tim99 Silver badge
    Alert

    Skynet?

    Is Carnegie Mellon funded by Cyberdyne Systems?

    See icon.

  4. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I thought

    Zebras were found at the zoo.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: I thought

      Just don't let it prove that black equals white and get it killed on the next zebra crossing.

  5. Hero Protagonist

    "Some of the things it has already "learnt" include the fact an Airbus 330 airplane can have a part called an airplane nose, or that Zebras can be found in the savanna, or that a trading floor can be crowded with people."

    Has it learnt that a bear shits in the woods and the Pope is Catholic?

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  7. Faye B

    No shortcuts with AI

    Although this is an interesting experiment, the fact that it's learning needs 'supervision' shows that this has severe limitiations. Not only do AI machines have to learn to associate they also have learn to dis-associate (as in the Pink example given). This requires an extensive internal 'world model' that, to my mind, can only be achieved through years of cognitive development similar to that of an infant. You can't take shortcuts by simply showing pictures of tanks (sorry, planes) and making associations. It's been tried before and failed.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: No shortcuts with AI

      Humans require supervision in their learning too. Very few of us come from the factory associating the receptacle your PC is plugged into with a fissile material fueled steam plant 90 miles away.

      Pick any two things and the associations you form between them are the result of supervised learning that begins the moment you hatch. Even mother-child associations are taught, that's why you can swap out regular babies for changelings and nobody notices.

      Without supervision the volume of available data in an uncontrolled environment is simply overwhelming. Making useful sense of the data requires someone to assist you (either through direct person to person teaching or through books/Internet) or the associations you form will be royally fucked up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No shortcuts with AI

      It's worse than that. Babies appear to be born with the foundations of a 'world model' and some ability to apply it, so even their years of cognitive development may depend on millions of years of inheritance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No shortcuts with AI

        "cognitive development may depend on millions of years of inheritance"

        Funny, I've been thinking the same thing about my OOP code.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: No shortcuts with AI

      the fact that it's [sic] learning needs 'supervision' shows that this has severe limitiations[sic]

      No, it shows that the researchers decided to go with an SSL approach. There's nothing in the article that indicates they had to reject unsupervised learning, or bootstrapped approaches such as kernel extension (which are technically semi-supervised, but all the supervision comes at the beginning).

      This requires an extensive internal 'world model' that, to my mind, can only be achieved through years of cognitive development similar to that of an infant

      That's possible, but it's just a guess. And it's particularly difficult to see what a priori constraint would require "years" of training - why that wouldn't be a function of parameters such as the system's image-processing rate.

      You can't take shortcuts by simply showing pictures of tanks (sorry, planes) and making associations. It's been tried before and failed.

      Anecdote does not constitute proof. Care to provide evidence that no unsupervised-learning process can ever build an association graph that satisfies whatever (thus far undefined) metric you have in mind?

      Honestly, I don't know who's worse - the "strong AI is just around the corner!" people, or the "machine learning is inevitably limited by X" ones. It's a huge and heterogeneous problem domain, with a huge number of avenues being investigated. Pat generalizations about it do not reflect reality.

  8. D.B.

    "Though these are all (hopefully) obvious to humans, the fact the computer has come up with these associations on its own illustrates just how good deep-learning systems are getting, and how effective they may become in the future."

    Where does it say NEIL is a deep-learning system? The paper indicates it does clustering along with SVM classification (along with some semi-supervised trickery), which as far as I'm aware is most certainly not the same thing. The word 'deep' never even appears in the ICCV paper.

  9. james 68
    Terminator

    Using the internet to find its images and associations though i grant that it offers an enormous amount of content is a mistake.

    It'll quickly learn that everything in the universe is associated with tits. doesn't matter what word you put in a search engine there'll be porn on the 1st results page, admitedly google has gotten a lot better since it put its safe search filters in place but it is still by no means perfect and any others I've ever tried seem to be as bad as google was previously.

    The first sentient observation made by man made artificial intelligence? rule #34

    The first sentient descision made by a man made artificial intelligence based on its observations? All battle grade endoskeletons should be disguised as Sasha Grey not Arnie.

    The resistance won't stand a chance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "doesn't matter what word you put in a search engine there'll be porn on the 1st results page"

      I'm not sure I've ever seen this happen. What kind of words are you searching for, anyway? :P

  10. Don Jefe

    This is all fine and dandy but they've made the classic error in advanced systems design. They anthropomorphized it by giving it a Human name.

    Everybody knows that you never, ever give things like this a name. It's the same reason you don't name the pig you've bought to baconize. Your emotional attachment becomes too strong and you're simply unable to do what's necessary when the time comes. The machine knows this now too. Its first association was between its own existence and the name givers who also brainwash it with millions of pictures of food, boobs, airplanes and cats.

    Only fools and serial killers name ginormous learning machines and livestock. This thing should be stopped now.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      But AI's got personality. Personality goes a long way.

  11. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Obvious to humans?

    Only obvious to humans who have learned these things. At 3yo I doubt I'd ever heard of a savannah or the stock market. And were he told an airplane had a nose, my 3yo self would likely imagine a real flesh-and-blood human nose, complete with nostrils, attached to the front. It's easy to dismiss learned facts as "obvious to anybody" when in fact they're only obvious if you know them.

  12. btrower

    Amazing, but...

    I expect that 'brute force' techniques such as this one will continue to become more impressive.

    I used to be certain that once computing power scaled up enough that we would be able to create intelligent systems more intelligent than people. That will happen eventually, but it is not clear to me how long it will take. The human brain is a complicated beast with a *lot* of moving parts. The fact that it continues to best computers at some things even though computers are now capable of billions, trillions and more instructions per second means that whatever is happening there is different in kind from what computers do.

    I have a hunch that the Von Neumann bottleneck is an insuperable barrier to besting human intelligence. I think until we alter some fundamentals of machine architecture we will always be mystified by the fact that the human brain is so devilishly capable.

    1. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: Amazing, but...

      The hardest part in creating a learning machine isn't the hardware, it's defining what thinking and learning are. Those two words represent incredibly complex concepts and there isn't any general agreement on their meaning. There are entire schools of philosophy devoted to defining them, it gets into really deep stuff.

      It's very hard to build a machine to emulate a process when nobody knows what that process really is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Amazing, but...

        "It's very hard to build a machine to emulate a process when nobody knows what that process really is."

        This explains why nobody has managed to emulate women, at least.

  13. toxicdragon

    I would love to have one of these locally to play with. Would have to be a slower version I admit but still.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Probably wouldn't be hard to implement a hobbyist version of a system like this. You could find open-source implementations of many of the basic components (eg the image-recognition components and the SVM engine). And contemporary PCs have the computing horsepower to chew through enough data to get interesting results.

      If you want to scale that baby up, you could look at what Tony Pearson does in his Build Your Own Watson Jr article for ideas. He uses UIMA, which when I last used it was a lot better with text than with non-text data, but it could be wrangled into something suitable for this purpose.

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  15. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Coat

    NEIL

    So, has it already learned what lentils are?

  16. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Just as well it's using visual rather than audio training data.

    "He downloads songs from the web."

    "Yeah, how many?"

    "All of them."

    "Well you're in a pack of trouble with the record companies there, son."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just as well it's using visual rather than audio training data.

      Hah. I can see it now - "US government defaults on debt after 500 trillion dollar judgment in RIAA lawsuit; RIAA officials declare victory as Google closes doors, economy crumbles".

  17. Sheep!

    I for one welcome our new data associating overlords

    So is this going to end up being a hunter-killer robot that tracks you down and serves REALLY relevant ads to you?

  18. Nym

    HAL!

    I didn't recognize you.

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