Monday, June 29, 2015

A Chinese artificial intelligence program just beat humans in an IQ test



Science just took us a small step closer to HAL 9000.

A new artificial intelligence (AI) program designed by Chinese researchers has beat humans on a verbal IQ test.

Scoring well on the verbal section of the intelligence test has traditionally been a tall order for computers, since words have multiple meanings and complex relationships to one another.

But in a new study, the program did better than its human counterparts who took the test.

The findings suggest machines could be one small step closer to approaching the level of human intelligence, the researchers wrote in the study, which was posted earlier this month on the online database arXiv, but has not yet been published in a scientific journal.

IQ isn't the end-all, be-all measure of intelligence

Don't get too excited just yet: IQ isn't the end-all, be-all measure of intelligence, human or otherwise.

For one thing, the test only measures one kind of intelligence (typically, critics point out, at the expense of others, such as creativity or emotional intelligence. Plus, because some test questions can be hacked using some basic tricks, some AI researchers argue that IQ isn't the best way to measure machine intelligence.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests, an idea first proposed by German psychologist William Stern in the early 1900s, usually consist of a standard set of questions designed to measure human intelligence in logic, math and verbal comprehension. The verbal questions usually test a person's understanding of words with multiple meanings, synonyms and antonyms, and analogies (for example, a question might ask fo! r the multiple choice answer that best matches the analogy "sedative : drowness.")

Only a handful of computer programs for solving IQ tests exist, which could make this new achievement a pretty big deal.

Bin Gao, a computer scientist at Microsoft Research in Beijing, and his colleagues developed the new AI program specifically to tackle the test's verbal questions.

First, they wrote a program to figure out which type of question was being asked. Next, they found a new way to represent the different meanings of words and how the words were related.

They used an approach known as deep learning, which involves building up more and more abstract representations of concepts from raw data. (For example, Google uses deep learning in its search and translation features.) The researchers used this method to learn the different representations of words, a technique known as word embedding.

Finally, the researchers developed a way to solve the test problems.

The researchers gave a set of IQ test questions to their computer program and to a group of 200 people with different levels of education, recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform.

Still, the results are striking

The AI's results were striking. Although it scored better than the average person in the study, it didn't fare so well against some participants, such as people 30 and over and people with a master's or doctorate degree.

Other scientists not involved in the study praised the findings, but cautioned that they were just baby steps for now.

Robert Sloan, a computer scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the Chinese AI's performance was a small step forward, but noted that these kinds of multiple choice questions are just one type of IQ test, and may not be comparable to the kinds of open-ended reasoning tests administered to students by trained psycholo! gists.

Within AI, "the places where so far we’ve seen very little progress have to do with open dialogue and social understanding," Sloan told Business Insider. For example, if you ask a child what to do if they see an adult lying in the street, you expect them to call for help. "Right now, theres no way you could write a computer program to do that," he said.

In 2013, Sloan and his colleagues developed an AI that scored the same on an IQ test as a human four-year-old, but the program's performance was extremely varied. If a child varied that much, people would think something was wrong with it, Sloan said at the time.

Hannaneh Hajishirzi, an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle who designs computer programs that can solve math word problems, also found the results interesting. The Chinese researchers "got interesting results in terms of comparison with humans on this test of verbal questions," she said, adding that "we're still far away from making a system that can reason like humans."

So maybe AI isn't about to take over the world, as Stephen Hawking and others might have us believe. But at the very least, we'll end up with computers that are really good at making analogies.

UP NEXT: The CEO of IBM just made a bold prediction about the future of artificial intelligence

SEE ALSO: Here's when artificial intelligence could go from helpful to scary

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Benedict Cumberbatch And The Cast Of 'The Imitation Game' Have Mixed Feelings About Artificial Intelligence


Stretchy conductive ink puts computing power on your clothes


Conductive ink examples

Those dreams of having computers in your clothing might be more realistic than you think. Japanese researchers have developed a printable conductive ink that maintains a circuit even when you stretch fabric to three times its usual length -- you could have athletic gear with hidden activity trackers, sensors and other computing devices. The key is a careful mix of fluorine, an organic solvent and silver flakes which, when combined, keeps transmitting electricity even under heavy abuse.

The current prototype for the ink, a wristband that tracks muscle movement, is pretty crude. You'd need much smaller circuitry before your apparel replaces your step counter or smartwatch. However, it only takes one step to print the ink. As such, it'd be relatively easy to produce on the large scales you need for shirts and wristbands. Smart fitness clothing already exists, but this invention would make it both more commercially viable and a heck of a lot more comfortable.

[Image credit: Takao Someya/University of Tokyo]

Filed under: ,


Via: EurekAlert, Nikkei Technology

Source: Nature


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Google Has Its Own Alternative to GitHub: Cloud SourceƂ Repositories


If you work with code every day, you’re likely used to GitHub—a place to store code with all the revision history you ever need. Now, though, Google has its own take on the service, open as a beta release for you to use for free.



The Blade is a 3D-printed supercar


3D printing technology has already revolutionized the aeronautics industry. Manufacturers can create lighter, stronger components at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional production methods. Now a San Francisco-based startup called Divergent Microfactories is trying to do the same in the automotive industry. To that end, the company debuted a 3D printed supercar dubbed "Blade", reportedly the first such vehicle to ever be additively manufactured.

The Blade's chassis is quite unique. Instead of having to generate the entire thing as a single unit, Divergent developed an 3D printed aluminum "Node" joint. The printed carbon fiber tubes that make up the chassis plug into these nodes to form a strong and lightweight frame for the rest of the vehicle. Divergent claims that this method can reduce the weight of the chassis by as much as 90 percent compared to conventional cars though the fact that it's carbon fiber and not steel or aluminum probably has a lot to do with those weight savings. In all, the vehicle weighs just 1,400 pounds (just a touch more than the Caterham Seven 620 R) but features a 700HP engine capable of running on both CNG and gas.

The company plans to produce a limited number of these vehicles to start (surprised Jay Leno doesn't already own one) but hopes to franchise its technology and let smaller boutique manufacturers build their own cars. And seriously, if the Department of Energy can build its own e-Cobra, how tough could it really be?



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lenovo is the latest to hop on the PC-on-a-stick bandwagon


Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 in its native habitat

Who knew that stick computers were suddenly in vogue? In the wake of pocket-sized desktops from Intel, Dell and Google, Lenovo is joining the fray with the Ideacentre 300 Stick. The extra-tiny Windows PC is much like a sleeker, more polished version of Intel's Compute Stick. It shares the same 1.3GHz Atom chip, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage as its counterpart, and you'll also have the familiar USB port and microSD card slot for those moments when wireless peripherals won't cut it. The system's biggest difference (and really, biggest draw) is its price. It'll cost $129 when it hits stores in July -- that's about $20 less than the Intel stick, and you're getting a full-fledged home computer versus a corporate "thin client" like Dell's similarly priced Wyse Cloud Connect.

Filed under: ,


Source: Lenovo