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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience

    Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience
    By JOHN MARKOFF
    December 28, 2013
    The New York Times

    Excerpt:
    PALO ALTO, Calif. — Computers have entered the age when they are able to learn from their own mistakes, a development that is about to turn the digital world on its head.

    The first commercial version of the new kind of computer chip is scheduled to be released in 2014. Not only can it automate tasks that now require painstaking programming — for example, moving a robot’s arm smoothly and efficiently — but it can also sidestep and even tolerate errors, potentially making the term “computer crash” obsolete.

    The new computing approach, already in use by some large technology companies, is based on the biological nervous system, specifically on how neurons react to stimuli and connect with other neurons to interpret information. It allows computers to absorb new information while carrying out a task, and adjust what they do based on the changing signals.

    In coming years, the approach will make possible a new generation of artificial intelligence systems that will perform some functions that humans do with ease: see, speak, listen, navigate, manipulate and control. That can hold enormous consequences for tasks like facial and speech recognition, navigation and planning, which are still in elementary stages and rely heavily on human programming.

    Designers say the computing style can clear the way for robots that can safely walk and drive in the physical world, though a thinking or conscious computer, a staple of science fiction, is still far off on the digital horizon.

    “We’re moving from engineering computing systems to something that has many of the characteristics of biological computing,” said Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist who directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, one of many research centers devoted to developing these new kinds of computer circuits.

    Conventional computers are limited by what they have been programmed to do. Computer vision systems, for example, only “recognize” objects that can be identified by the statistics-oriented algorithms programmed into them. An algorithm is like a recipe, a set of step-by-step instructions to perform a calculation.

    But last year, Google researchers were able to get a machine-learning algorithm, known as a neural network, to perform an identification task without supervision. The network scanned a database of 10 million images, and in doing so trained itself to recognize cats.

    In June, the company said it had used those neural network techniques to develop a new search service to help customers find specific photos more accurately.

    The new approach, used in both hardware and software, is being driven by the explosion of scientific knowledge about the brain. Kwabena Boahen, a computer scientist who leads Stanford’s Brains in Silicon research program, said that is also its limitation, as scientists are far from fully understanding how brains function.

    “We have no clue,” he said. “I’m an engineer, and I build things. There are these highfalutin theories, but give me one that will let me build something.”

    Until now, the design of computers was dictated by ideas originated by the mathematician John von Neumann about 65 years ago. Microprocessors perform operations at lightning speed, following instructions programmed using long strings of 1s and 0s. They generally store that information separately in what is known, colloquially, as memory, either in the processor itself, in adjacent storage chips or in higher capacity magnetic disk drives.

    The data — for instance, temperatures for a climate model or letters for word processing — are shuttled in and out of the processor’s short-term memory while the computer carries out the programmed action. The result is then moved to its main memory.

    The new processors consist of electronic components that can be connected by wires that mimic biological synapses. Because they are based on large groups of neuron-like elements, they are known as neuromorphic processors, a term credited to the California Institute of Technology physicist Carver Mead, who pioneered the concept in the late 1980s.

    They are not “programmed.” Rather the connections between the circuits are “weighted” according to correlations in data that the processor has already “learned.” Those weights are then altered as data flows in to the chip, causing them to change their values and to “spike.” That generates a signal that travels to other components and, in reaction, changes the neural network, in essence programming the next actions much the same way that information alters human thoughts and actions.

    “Instead of bringing data to computation as we do today, we can now bring computation to data,” said Dharmendra Modha, an I.B.M. computer scientist who leads the company’s cognitive computing research effort. “Sensors become the computer, and it opens up a new way to use computer chips that can be everywhere.”

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    bump
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    At what point will we have to give them natural rights, do you think? Or is true Artificial Intelligence a dream on the horizon that will be crushed by the weight of reality?

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    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alea_iacta_est View Post
    At what point will we have to give them natural rights, do you think? Or is true Artificial Intelligence a dream on the horizon that will be crushed by the weight of reality?
    How do you distinguish intelligence created by man from intelligence created by God or Natural Design?
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    I don't like the term "intelligent design" there as it assumes God, so I stated it as Natural Design.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    How do you distinguish intelligence created by man from intelligence created by God or Natural Design?
    That's an even better question for those that adhere to Religious Natural Design.

    If god made us in his own image to live freely, will we make machines in our own image and allow them to live freely?

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    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alea_iacta_est View Post
    That's an even better question for those that adhere to Religious Natural Design.

    If god made us in his own image to live freely, will we make machines in our own image and allow them to live freely?
    That's Intelligent Design, not Natural Design, as stated in my second post. Natural Design is to say that there is a design to nature that has no direct connection to God or gods. Either way, if it's intelligent and has free-will, whether artificially or not, then it should have rights.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    That's Intelligent Design, not Natural Design, as stated in my second post. Natural Design is to say that there is a design to nature that has no direct connection to God or gods. Either way, if it's intelligent and has free-will, whether artificially or not, then it should have rights.
    I agree; after all, we are nothing but mortal computers.

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    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alea_iacta_est View Post
    I agree; after all, we are nothing but mortal computers.
    How do you know?
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Alea_iacta_est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    How do you know?
    Because we made computers to do work that specific individuals couldn't (excepting the infamous human calculators that can beat computers at their own game of computation speed). We built them on principles of logic, which we attempt to use as they do but ultimately stand no match against the utterly unbiased, objective logic utilized by computers. We poured the logical side of our minds into the creation of computers much like we poured the emotional side of our minds into art. Ultimately however, the emotional portion of our minds is inherently systematic with the fluctuations of chemicals in our brain, much like the computers' reasoning. This would suggest that we are computers, or more likely, computers are human. (Assuming there are no constructs such as the soul or any other religious affects)

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