Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

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Google’s DeepMind subsidiary which focuses on artificial intelligence has unveiled a new and improved version of its Go-playing software, AlphaGo Zero, according to a report from The Verge.

The story claims that the new version of the program is a “significantly better player than the version that beat the game’s world champion earlier this year.”

But more notably, it asserts the new version is entirely self-taught.

The Verge explains the original AlphaGo demonstrated superhuman Go-playing ability, but needed assistance from humans to win, building on a dataset of more than 100,000 Go games as a starting point.

The new version has only been programmed with the basic rules of Go, while everything else it learned from scratch.

A paper published in Nature outlines how Zero developed its Go skills by competing against itself. Starting with random moves on the board, every time it won, Zero updated its own system and played itself over and over, millions of time, “learning” as it went.

The Verge reports it took AlphaGo Zero only three days of self-play to become strong enough to defeat the version of itself that beat 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol, winning 100 days to nil.

Lead programmer David Silver had this to say at a recent press conference about the advance:

By not using human data — by not using human expertise in any fashion — we’ve actually removed the constraints of human knowledge. It’s therefore able to create knowledge itself from first principles, from a blank slate…This enables it to be much more powerful than previous versions.


Elon Musk had better speed up development of that Mars program.

Written by turbotodd

October 19, 2017 at 8:13 am

A Long AI Weekend

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It’s been a long and winding week, and here in the U.S., we’re about to head into the nice, long, three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

So if you haven’t had enough tech this week, I’m passing along some choice reading recommendations in advance, as I suspect many of you will be leaving the computer or tablet early manana, and hitting the planes, trains, and automobiles.

First up, a Vox story entitled “Artificial intelligence is getting more powerful and it’s about to be everywhere.” That’s because it is. It’s even beating us in our own board games.

Case in point, the story they didn’t want you to watch in China, from The Verge: “AlphaGo beats Ke Jie again to wrap up three-part match.” China’s Jie is the world’s number one Go player and lost his second of a three part match to Google’s AlphaGo. I highly recommend Jie get in touch with former chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov to drown their sorrows in some baijiu and vodka.

After several months of the Trump Administration, I thought it might be good to revisit an unofficial analysis and comparison of President Obamas’ and Trump’s inaugural addresses. Entitled, “IBM Watson Compares Trump’s Inauguration Speech to Obama’s.”

If you can’t bear the thought of the machines taking over mankind, perhaps it’s time to return a different kind of manhood, in a new biography of the eminently masculine writer, Ernest Hemingway. There’s a new biography out, entitled simply, Ernest Hemingway: A Biography. I was an American lit major, so I’ll be putting this new bio on the list. If AI were a contemporary of Papa Hemingway, I’m sure he would have run with the bots and the bulls.

And another new non-fiction book that I just started reading, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. The first few chapters are filled with choice tidbits and insights about what appears to have been an epic leadership failure by the candidate herself. But I’ll reserve full judgment until I’ve finished the book, and also after I’ve handed it off to IBM’s Watson for its own summary judgment.

The machines, after all, are our new best friends….aren’t they?

For those of you in the U.S., enjoy your holiday weekend and don’t forget Monday’s true meaning: Remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of our country.

Written by turbotodd

May 25, 2017 at 10:19 am

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