Google DeepMind AI Project Makes Progress

July 25, 2016

For anyone following the development of artificial intelligence, I recommend checking out the article, “How Google Plans to Solve Artificial Intelligence” at MIT Technology Review. The article delves into Google’s DeepMind project, an object of renewed curiosity after its AlphaGo software bested the human world champion of the ancient game Go in March.

This Go victory is significant, because it marks progress beyond the strategy of calculating different moves’ possible outcomes; the game is too complex for that established approach (though such calculations did allow IBM’s DeepBlue to triumph over the world chess champion in 1997). The ability to master Go has some speaking of “intuition” over calculation. Just how do you give software an approximation of human intuition? Writer Tom Simonite tells us:

“Hassabis believes the reinforcement learning approach is the key to getting machine-learning software to do much more complex things than the tricks it performs for us today, such as transcribing our words, or understanding the content of photos. ‘We don’t think just observing is enough for intelligence, you also have to act,’ he says. ‘Ultimately that’s the only way you can really understand the world.’”

“DeepMind’s 3-D environment Labyrinth, built on an open-source clone of the first-person-shooter Quake, is designed to provide the next steps in proving that idea. The company has already used it to challenge agents with a game in which they must explore randomly generated mazes for 60 seconds, winning points for collecting apples or finding an exit…. Future challenges might require more complex planning—for example, learning that keys can be used to open doors. The company will also test software in other ways, and is considering taking on the video game Starcraft and even poker. But posing harder and harder challenges inside Labyrinth will be a major thread of research for some time, says Hassabis. “It should be good for the next couple of years,” he says.”

The article has a video of DeepMind’s virtual labyrinth you can check out, if you’re curious. (It looks very much like an old Windows screen saver some readers may recall.) Simonite tells us that AI firms across the industry are watching this project carefully. He also points to some ways DeepMind is already helping with real-world problems, like developing training software with the U.K.’s National Health Service to help medical personnel recognize commonly missed signs of kidney problems.

See the article for much more about Google’s hopes and plans for DeepMind. Simonite concludes by acknowledging the larger philosophical and ethical concerns around artificial intelligence. We’re told DeepMind has its own “internal ethics board of philosophers, lawyers, and businesspeople.” I think it is no exaggeration to say these folks, whom Google indicates it will name someday soon, could have great influence over the nature of our future technology. Let us hope Google chooses wisely.



Cynthia Murrell, July 25, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link:


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta