Canny cyberbrain charmed by cute cats – just like humans

The Star

London: You might expect an artificial brain made up of 16 000 computers to have rather more sophisticated interests.

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Karl Lagerfeld's kitty. My clever kitty: Karl Lagerfeld posted a picture via Twitter of his Siamese cat busy playing with its iPad. Picture: Twitter

But when Google let its latest cyberbrain loose on the internet, it did what many humans do when looking for light entertainment – it homed in on cats.

And while it may seem a frivolous activity, the scientists say it is a major breakthrough.

In the past, humans have supervised the process by which such computers identify objects by labelling certain features to give the machine a reference point. But in the latest experiment, at Google’s secretive X laboratory in Mountain View, California, the computer brain was given no help at all.

After being fed 10 million random YouTube images, it taught itself to recognise a cat, assembling its own digital picture from those it had been “shown”.

Significantly, this suggests that if a computer is big enough, and programmed correctly, it can make sense of random, unlabelled data without human help.

Dr Jeff Dean, who headed the study, said: “We never told it during the training: ‘This is a cat.’ It basically invented the concept of a cat.”

The researchers believe they have created a computer that replicates what goes on in the human brain’s visual cortex.

“You learn to identify a friend through repetition,” explained Gary Bradski, a neuroscientist at Industrial Perception in California.

The researchers will present the results of the experiment to a conference this weekend in Edinburgh. – Daily Mail

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