Google’s 16,000 cluster bot: It’s all about cats

It’s a neural network developed by “X laboratory” (which is an awesome sounding secret lab and they also are working on self-driven cars in Nevada, fuck yeah) that is one step closer to constructing artificial intelligence in computers. They turned it on, gave it very little direction except to recognize faces and pointed it in the direction of the YouTube thumbnail archives to feed on input — the “answer” it spit out was that it also recognized the composite face of a cat, in addition to humans.

Originally reported by the NYT:

And then, of course, there are the cats.

To find them, the Google research team, led by the Stanford University computer scientist Andrew Y. Ng and the Google fellow Jeff Dean, used an array of 16,000 processors to create a neural network with more than one billion connections. They then fed it random thumbnails of images, one each extracted from 10 million YouTube videos.

The videos were selected randomly and that in itself is an interesting comment on what interests humans in the Internet age. However, the research is also striking. That is because the software-based neural network created by the researchers appeared to closely mirror theories developed by biologists that suggest individual neurons are trained inside the brain to detect significant objects.

Currently much commercial machine vision technology is done by having humans “supervise” the learning process by labeling specific features. In the Google research, the machine was given no help in identifying features.

“The idea is that instead of having teams of researchers trying to find out how to find edges, you instead throw a ton of data at the algorithm and you let the data speak and have the software automatically learn from the data,” Dr. Ng said.

“We never told it during the training, ‘This is a cat,’ ” said Dr. Dean, who originally helped Google design the software that lets it easily break programs into many tasks that can be computed simultaneously. “It basically invented the concept of a cat. We probably have other ones that are side views of cats.”

There’s a long and rich history of cat worship dating back to the Egyptians and further so correlation is obviously something to consider.

Still, I suspect this could go down as the first undeniable “42” moment in AI computer science, where the answer once again ends up baffling researchers more than the initial question.

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