Menu
Researchers enable computers to teach themselves common sense

Researchers enable computers to teach themselves common sense

By studying millions of images, a computers at Carnegie Mellon are getting smarter

While some people may think they're getting dumbed down as they scroll through images of cats playing the piano or dogs playing in the snow, one computer is doing the same and getting smarter and smarter.

A computer cluster running the so-called the Never Ending Image Learner at Carnegie Mellon University runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week searching the Internet for images, studying them on its own and building a visual database. The process, scientists say, is giving the computer an increasing amount of common sense.

"Images are the best way to learn visual properties," said Abhinav Gupta, assistant research professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. "Images also include a lot of common sense information about the world. People learn this by themselves and, with [this program], we hope that computers will do so as well."

The computers have been running the program since late July, analyzing some three million images. The system has identified 1,500 types of objects in half a million images and 1,200 types of scenes in hundreds of thousands of images, according to the university.

The program has connected the dots to learn 2,500 associations from thousands of instances.

Thanks to advances in computer vision that enable software to identify and label objects found in images and recognize colors, materials and positioning, the Carnegie Mellon cluster is better understanding the visual world with each image it analyzes.

The program also is set up to enable a computer to make common sense associations, like buildings are vertical instead of lying on their sides, people eat food, and cars are found on roads. All the things that people take for granted, the computers now are learning without being told.

"People don't always know how or what to teach computers," said Abhinav Shrivastava, a robotics Ph.D. student at CMU and a lead researcher on the program. "But humans are good at telling computers when they are wrong."

He noted, for instance, that a human might need to tell the computer that pink isn't just the name of a singer but also is the name of a color.

While previous computer scientists have tried to "teach" computers about different real-world associations, compiling structured data for them, the job has always been far too vast to tackle successfully. CMU noted that Facebook alone has more than 200 billion images.

The only way for computers to scan enough images to understand the visual world is to let them do it on their own.

"What we have learned in the last five to 10 years of computer vision research is that the more data you have, the better computer vision becomes," Gupta said.

CMU's computer learning program is supported by Google and the Office of Naval Research.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hardwareserversEmerging Technologieshardware systems

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments