Teaching AI to Behave Like Humans

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 02:51

Researchers at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence lab founded by Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, have taken a great step in teaching machines to behave like humans.

According to the New York Times, the researcher Dario Amodei showed off an autonomous system that taught itself to play Coast Runners, an old boat-racing video game. The winner is the boat with the most points that also crosses the finish line.

Researchers are building machines that can learn tasks largely on their own. This is how Google’s DeepMind lab created a system that could beat the world’s best player at the ancient game of Go. But as these machines train themselves through hours of data analysis, they may also find their way to unexpected, unwanted and perhaps even harmful behavior.

At OpenAI, Mr. Amodei and his colleague Paul Christiano are developing algorithms that can not only learn tasks through hours of trial and error, but also receive regular guidance from human teachers along the way.

If a machine can learn to navigate a racing game like Grand Theft Auto, researchers believe, it can learn to drive a real car. If it can learn to use a web browser and other common software apps, it can learn to understand natural language and maybe even carry on a conversation. At places like Google and the University of California, Berkeley, robots have already used the technique to learn simple tasks like picking things up or opening a door.

“This validates a lot of the previous thinking,” said Dylan Hadfield-Menell, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. “These types of algorithms hold a lot of promise over the next five to 10 years.”

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