Terminator Isn’t Coming: Facebook AI and the New AI Revolution

September 27, 2017|

By John Pope

Click bait and social media sharing were congested this summer with stories about Artificial Intelligence (AI) evolving. Such as Google’s AI teaching itself how to virtually walk in a more practical and logistical way than its human counterparts. Also, let’s look at this Facebook AI and the creation of a new language.

According to AI expert and web blogger Abhimanyu Ghoshal of thenextweb.com, “When Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) Lab shared a finding that its bots had invented their own language to communicate with each other, that story made waves, and so did several reports based on a follow-up piece by Fast Co. Design. Several blogs ran with headlines stating that Facebook had shut down its Frankenstein-like AI after it created its own language. However, the problem with this sort of interaction is that we can’t make much sense of it, at least not beyond the realm of research.”

Also as Gizmodo noted, “The team had realized that they hadn’t incentivized the bots to speak in English that humans would be able to understand fully, and so they shut down the conversation. That’s all it was, and nothing close to a reality of being ruled by sentient beings.”

Many bloggers and practical techies and engineers ran debunking posts around the web proclaiming that doomsday was near; this is simply science fiction. Sure it is something we have seen in our horror movies, but The Terminator is just a movie. Although a classic and essential for all sci-fi fans it is, alas, fiction.

As FAIR visiting researcher Dhruv Batra explained in a Facebook post: “While the idea of AI agents inventing their own language may sound alarming/unexpected to people outside the field, it is a well-established subfield of AI, with publications dating back decades.”

Also in nerd speak, according to Ghoshal, “Simply put, agents in environments attempting to solve a task will often find unintuitive ways to maximize reward. Analyzing the reward function and changing the parameters of an experiment is not the same as ‘unplugging’ or ‘shutting down AI.’ If that were the case, every AI researcher has been “’shutting down AI’ every time they kill a job on a machine.”

In summary, there is no logical reason to be afraid of AI in the immediate future, period As nerd icon, television personality and renowned astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out, “Any AI we create – no matter how dangerous – can simply be unplugged.”

End of story. For now….

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