The future of Artificial Intelligence - Language Development - Blogmantra

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Thursday, 11 June 2020

The future of Artificial Intelligence - Language Development

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Language Perception

Artificial intelligence is the scenario when a machine mimics the cognitive functions of human minds. Natural Language Perception (NLP) is a basic function of AI. It has successfully displayed the abilities to understand natural language from speech and written forms. But NLP requires very intensive training for the systems implementing it.




A newer and better model of language perception in AI is self-training. Now, self-training and development does not mean that the AI is developing its own new languages; though it may in the future. It simply means that the AI follows unsupervised learning strategies to develop better means of communication that do not necessarily follow the grammar rules of natural human languages.

Google Neural Machine Translation


The base of language self-development lies in the Google Neural Machine Translation System, a part of the Google Brain project. GNMT was deployed in Google Translate in 2007 and has been successfully in use since then. 

The main feature of GNMT is that it works with entire sentences rather than individual words. It basically treats sentences as cluster sets, and similar phrases of languages tend to fall in same clusters. It generates the data sets by encoding the semantics of the sentence, rather than by memorizing phrase-to-phrase translations. The most radical advantage of this methodology was that it enabled Google Translate to convert phrases in languages for which it was not trained.

It led to many beliefs that the system converted the languages into an incomprehensible intermediate language that it used to translate into untrained languages. However, it actually works by self-training the system using existing similar and coinciding data sets


The Facebook Chat-bot

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The issue of self-development was brought in focus when a research experiment paper was published by Facebook AI Research Lab. It was regarding a Facebook AI engine that was discontinued when it communicated using language semantics that did not follow natural language rules and were therefore, beyond human understanding. 




Researchers at Facebook AI Research Lab discovered that two chat bots had developed new semantics to ease their communication which could not be understood by humans. This phenomena came to notice when the bots were challenged to negotiate with each other over a trade, attempting to swap goods of different values. The bots were instructed to work out how to negotiate and improve their bartering as they went along. But no specific instructions were given as to use comprehensible English, allowing them to create their own 'shorthand'.


Facebook suspended the experiment when it did not behave in the required manner. The programs were not shut down because the researchers had panicked, as has been suggested elsewhere, but because they were intending for them to behave differently. The company chose to shut down the chats after the successful completion of the experiment because the project objective was in developing bots who could talk to people, and the programs had deviated from the aim.  It is quite possible that the bots would be reprogrammed to bring them back on track.
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The media hype over these programs however had created unrealistic and fearsome scenarios. Incomprehensible digital languages reminds us all of the dystopian fiction scenarios like SKYNET, TRON etc. where AI develops its own mind with much greater potential than humans, and then tries to wipe out the human race. In a list of circumstances that could annihilate the human race, super-intelligent killer robots rank quite high according to common perception.
Even in academia and scientific circles, a growing number of AI experts are voicing that humans will eventually create an artificial intelligence that can think and function beyond our own capacities. The general trepidation about AI is that it would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution would not be able to compete, and would be superseded.
Nothing so drastic has happened yet, or even majorly implicated; but the indications are ever increasing.

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