Menu
'Ex Machina', here we come: A new algorithm helps computers learn the way we do

'Ex Machina', here we come: A new algorithm helps computers learn the way we do

In a 'visual Turing test,' human judges couldn't tell them apart

Machine learning is all about getting computers to "understand" new concepts, but it's still a pretty inefficient process, often requiring hundreds of examples for training. That may soon change, however, thanks to new research published on Friday.

Aiming to shorten the learning process and make it more like the way humans acquire and apply new knowledge based on just a few examples, a team of researchers has developed what they call a Bayesian Program Learning framework and then used it to teach computers to identify and reproduce handwritten characters based on just a single example.

Whereas standard pattern-recognition algorithms represent concepts as configurations of pixels or collections of features, the BPL approach learns by “explaining” the data provided to the algorithm -- in this case, the sample character. Concepts are represented as probabilistic computer programs and the algorithm essentially programs itself by constructing code to produce the letter it sees. It can also capture variations in the way different people draw a given letter.

The model also “learns to learn” by using knowledge from previous concepts to speed learning on new ones, so it can use knowledge of the Latin alphabet to learn letters in the Greek alphabet more quickly, for example.

Most compelling of all is that the algorithm allowed computers to pass a sort of "visual Turing test." Specifically, the researchers asked both humans and computers to reproduce a series of handwritten characters after being shown just a single example of each; in some cases, subjects were asked to create entirely new characters in the style of those originally shown. Bottom line: human judges couldn't tell the results apart.

The researchers have applied their model to more than 1,600 types of handwritten characters in 50 writing systems, including Sanskrit, Tibetan, Gujarati and Glagolitic. They even tried it on invented characters such as those from the television series "Futurama."

A paper describing the research was published Friday in the journal Science. Its authors were Brenden Lake, a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at New York University; Ruslan Salakhutdinov, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto; and Joshua Tenenbaum, a professor at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines.

“It has been very difficult to build machines that require as little data as humans when learning a new concept,” said Salakhutdinov. “Replicating these abilities is an exciting area of research connecting machine learning, statistics, computer vision, and cognitive science.”


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags emerging technologymachine learning

Featured

Slideshows

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?

From new extortion schemes, outside threats and rising cyber attacks, the art of securing the enterprise has seldom been so complex or challenging. With distance no longer a viable defence, Kiwi businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the security curve. In total, 28 per cent of local businesses faced a cyber attack last year, with the number in New Zealand set to rise in 2017. Yet amidst the sensationalism, media headlines and ongoing high profile breaches, confusion floods the channel, as partners seek strategic methods to combat rising sophistication from attackers. In sizing up the security spectrum, this Reseller News roundtable - in association with F5 Networks, Kaspersky Lab, Tech Data, Sophos and SonicWall - assessed where the channel sweet spot is within the New Zealand channel. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?
Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Show Comments