Blaise Agüera y Arcas Looks Inside the Machine Mind

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blaise Agüera y Arcas Looks Inside the Machine Mind

Artificial Intelligence

Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Principal Scientist at Google, recently discussed what has been achieved in machine intelligence over the past decade, with examples of current techniques and applications. He also explores what these developments might mean for our future.

In the talk below, Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Principal Scientist at Google, takes a close look at what has been achieved in machine intelligence (especially deep learning) over the past decade, with examples of current techniques and applications from the Machine Intelligence on Devices group at Google and from the community.

Deep Dream art

The work includes an exploration of Arcas' team's work on Google's  Deep Dream algorithm, the technique that has led to some very interesting digital artwork. The work may also help us understand how neural networks are able to carry out difficult classification tasks, improve network architecture, and check what the network has learned during training.

This includes not only classification and semantic understanding of natural stimuli, but also language, gameplay, and even art.  From here Arcas zooms out and consider some broader questions about human progress, labour and identity in an era of "technological reproducibility".

As Arcas discusses, it also makes us wonder whether neural networks could become a tool for artists—a new way to remix visual concepts—or perhaps even shed a little light on the roots of the creative process in general. The implications are numerous, from the commoditization of art, to the economics of buying and owning artworks.

Arcas quotes Stelarc, the Australian performance artist who stated,

The body has always been a prosthetic body. Ever since we evolved as hominids and  developed bipedal locomotion, two limbs became manipulators. We have become creatures that construct tools, artefacts and machines. We’ve always been augmented by our instruments, our technologies. Technology is what constructs our humanity; the trajectory of technology is what has propelled human developments. I’ve never seen the body as purely biological, so to consider technology as a kind of alien other that happens upon us at the end of the millennium is rather simplistic.

Aracas goes on to what can only be described as a transhumanist exploration of the epochal theory of  Rich Sutton, mentioning human augmentation and how we are becoming cyborgs. He addresses the paranoia concerning how our technology is affecting our humanity. "I think that paranoia goes hand in hand with domination," states Arcas.

"The beautiful thing about being intelligent is that we can design."
Sutton, the so-called father of reinforcement learning, who talked about the universe in terms of three epochs, the age of physics, the age of replicators and the age of design. "The beautiful thing about being intelligent is that we are able to design—that we can become the species that designs, that intends, that is."

When we get to figure out what we want, our base needs of survival are supplanted.

This attitude informs our relationship with artificial intelligence, and our fear of the killer robots that are coming to destroy us, Arcas suggests. Quoting from Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence about how human lives can be created on mass in emulation, Arcas suggests the idea is disturbing. He points to another view of the future where our technology presents us with choice and freedom, rather than just a bleak view of the universe being eaten up by computronium as a derivation of humanity's domination of nature.

"I think that the era for this kind of thinking is over," Arcas says. "And  I think that we need to be thinking very differently about our relationship to technology and to ourselves...I see that change happening already."

Arcas points out that the population of developed nations is declining. The population rate is an indicator that we can actually choose what we do rather than being driven by fear and paranoia and survival instinct.

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Arcas is Principal Scientist at Google where he leads a team focusing on Machine Intelligence for mobile devices - including both basic research and new products. His group works extensively with deep neural nets for machine perception, distributed learning, and agents, as well as collaborating with academic institutions on connectomics research.

Until 2014 he was a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, where he worked in a variety of roles, from inventor to strategist, and led teams with strengths in inter­ac­tion design, pro­to­typ­ing, computer vision and machine vision, augmented reality, wearable com­put­ing and graphics. Blaise has given TED talks on Sead­ragon and Pho­to­synth (2007, 2012) and Bing Maps (2010). In 2008, he was awarded MIT’s prestigious TR35 (“35 under 35”).

SOURCE  Oxford Martin School

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