Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Web Secret 451: machine learning

Machine learning: a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.

Essentially, the computer teaches itself.

Concretely, what does that mean?

Google invested a huge amount of expertise, time and money to teach its Google Translate program to do just that.

A recent article in the New York Times, The Great A.I. Awakening by Gideon Lewis-Kraus explains what happened next.

Google Translate suddenly and almost immeasurably improved.

Like overnight.

A Japanese professor noticed this happen. He told the program to translate a Japanese version of Hemingway's “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” into English. In 24 hours, Google Translate went from producing this:

"Kilimanjaro is 19,710 feet of the mountain covered with snow, and it is said that the highest mountain in Africa. Top of the west, “Ngaje Ngai” in the Maasai language, has been referred to as the house of God. The top close to the west, there is a dry, frozen carcass of a leopard. Whether the leopard had what the demand at that altitude, there is no that nobody explained."

to this:

"Kilimanjaro is a mountain of 19,710 feet covered with snow and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. The summit of the west is called “Ngaje Ngai” in Masai, the house of God. Near the top of the west there is a dry and frozen dead body of leopard. No one has ever explained what leopard wanted at that altitude."

In his article, Lewis-Kraus noted that "Even to a native English speaker, the missing article on the leopard is the only real giveaway that [the passage] was the output of an automaton."


Machine learning.

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