Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The $10 toy that's a densely entrained neural network

Boing Boing: Cool Tools on 20Q, a twenty-questions gadget

This is how Skynet gets going.
Burned into its 8-bit chip is a neural net that has been learning for 17 years. Inventor Robin Burgener programmed a simple neural net on a DOS machine 1988. He taught it 20 questions about a cat. He than passed the program around to friends on a floppy and had them challenge the neural net with their yes/no answers to the object they had in mind. The neural net learns only when it plays a game; no data is added except for the yes/no answers of visitors. So the more people who test it, the more they teach it. In 1995 Burgener put the now robust neural net onto the new web where anyone could play it (that is, train it) 24 hours a day. And they did. Burgener's genius was to turn the hard tedious work of training a neural net into a fun game for humans.
Forget the first sentient AI arising from a global defense grid. It will be a sentient child's toy in 2025 that takes over.

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