It seems like it's everyday you read something that heralds the coming of Judgement Day. Mysterious drones flying over Paris, the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, SR-72, being an unmanned spy plane, a company called Cyberdyne making robotic limbs...the list goes on. It's like the world is trying to tell us something and we're just too dense to get it. Anyways, add Google to that list too because they might have just created Skynet itself, or if not Skynet, then surely its precursor.
Google's team of scientists have created a new type of computer programme that can apparently learn and teach itself how to be better at whatever it is you put in front of it. It's called DQN (short for Deep Q-Network) and right now it is dominating in Atari games. Weirdly, instead of unleashing their programme on serious stuff like cancer research or something similar, the scientists thought that a video gaming computer programme would be a much better thing for the world.
Choice of test aside, the way the programme works is amazing. To get it to learn something, it is forced to learn everything about its target from the ground up. So while humans might intuitively grasp that a spaceship represents a player in the game, DQN only sees it as an object and makes no assumptions of its use or effect. It uses a process called Q-learning, in which "Q' stands for whatever outcome is desired. In this case, 'Q' is a high score. So DQN will learn as it plays what actions lead to achieving a high score and keep improving on that. As impressive sounding as that is, it's just part of the complex algorithms that make up DQN. It also uses an artificial neural network (based on a human brain) to store information as it learns and gets better. Interestingly, Halo's Cortana (of which the Microsoft Cortana is named after) is created similarly as well, being made from the imprint of a human mind.
Google is cagey about calling DQN an A.I. With the definition being so broad, there's a need to really hammer out what an A.I. really is and what are the qualifications needed before a programme can be called that. Instead, Google's going with Artificial Agent as they see DQN as only the first few steps in the ladder of creating a true A.I.
Whatever the case may be, it's still a step towards the creation of Skynet and making the Terminator films a reality. So from now on, we'll be working from our secret underground bunker.
Source: Popular Mechanics
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