Google closer to developing human-like intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Computers will have developed “common sense” within a decade and we could be counting them among our friends not long afterwards, one of the world’s leading AI scientists has predicted.

Professor Geoff Hinton, who was hired by Google two years ago to help develop intelligent operating systems, said that the company is on the brink of developing algorithms with the capacity for logic, natural conversation and even flirtation.

The researcher told the Guardian said that Google is working on a new type of algorithm designed to encode thoughts as sequences of numbers – something he described as “thought vectors”.

Although the work is at an early stage, he said there is a plausible path from the current software to a more sophisticated version that would have something approaching human-like capacity for reasoning and logic. “Basically, they’ll have common sense.”

The idea that thoughts can be captured and distilled down to cold sequences of digits is controversial, Hinton said. “There’ll be a lot of people who argue against it, who say you can’t capture a thought like that,” he added. “But there’s no reason why not. I think you can capture a thought by a vector.”

Hinton, who is due to give a talk at the Royal Society in London on Friday, believes that the “thought vector” approach will help crack two of the central challenges in artificial intelligence: mastering natural, conversational language, and the ability to make leaps of logic.

He painted a picture of the near-future in which people will chat with their computers, not only to extract information, but for fun – reminiscent of the film, Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his intelligent operating system.

“It’s not that far-fetched,” Hinton said. “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be like a friend. I don’t see why you shouldn’t grow quite attached to them.”

In the past two years, scientists have already made significant progress in overcoming this challenge.

Richard Socher, an artificial intelligence scientist at Stanford University, recently developed a program called NaSent that he taught to recognise human sentiment by training it on 12,000 sentences taken from the film review website Rotten Tomatoes.

Part of the initial motivation for developing “thought vectors” was to improve translation software, such as Google Translate, which currently uses dictionaries to translate individual words and searches through previously translated documents to find typical translations for phrases. Although these methods often provide the rough meaning, they are also prone to delivering nonsense and dubious grammar.

Thought vectors, Hinton explained, work at a higher level by extracting something closer to actual meaning.

The technique works by ascribing each word a set of numbers (or vector) that define its position in a theoretical “meaning space” or cloud. A sentence can be looked at as a path between these words, which can in turn be distilled down to its own set of numbers, or thought vector.

The “thought” serves as a the bridge between the two languages because it can be transferred into the French version of the meaning space and decoded back into a new path between words.

The key is working out which numbers to assign each word in a language – this is where deep learning comes in. Initially the positions of words within each cloud are ordered at random and the translation algorithm begins training on a dataset of translated sentences.

At first the translations it produces are nonsense, but a feedback loop provides an error signal that allows the position of each word to be refined until eventually the positions of words in the cloud captures the way humans use them – effectively a map of their meanings.

Hinton said that the idea that language can be deconstructed with almost mathematical precision is surprising, but true. “If you take the vector for Paris and subtract the vector for France and add Italy, you get Rome,” he said. “It’s quite remarkable.”

Dr Hermann Hauser, a Cambridge computer scientist and entrepreneur, said that Hinton and others could be on the way to solving what programmers call the “genie problem”.

“With machines at the moment, you get exactly what you wished for,” Hauser said. “The problem is we’re not very good at wishing for the right thing. When you look at humans, the recognition of individual words isn’t particularly impressive, the important bit is figuring out what the guy wants.”

“Hinton is our number one guru in the world on this at the moment,” he added.

Some aspects of communication are likely to prove more challenging, Hinton predicted. “Irony is going to be hard to get,” he said. “You have to be master of the literal first. But then, Americans don’t get irony either. Computers are going to reach the level of Americans before Brits.”

A flirtatious program would “probably be quite simple” to create, however. “It probably wouldn’t be subtly flirtatious to begin with, but it would be capable of saying borderline politically incorrect phrases,” he said.

Many of the recent advances in AI have sprung from the field of deep learning, which Hinton has been working on since the 1980s. At its core is the idea that computer programs learn how to carry out tasks by training on huge datasets, rather than being taught a set of inflexible rules.

With the advent of huge datasets and powerful processors, the approach pioneered by Hinton decades ago has come into the ascendency and underpins the work of Google’s artificial intelligence arm, DeepMind, and similar programs of research at Facebook and Microsoft.

Hinton played down concerns about the dangers of AI raised by those such as the American entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has described the technologies under development as humanity’s greatest existential threat. “The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. Ten years at most,” Musk warned last year.

“I’m more scared about the things that have already happened,” said Hinton in response. “The NSA is already bugging everything that everybody does. Each time there’s a new revelation from Snowden, you realise the extent of it.”

“I am scared that if you make the technology work better, you help the NSA misuse it more,” he added. “I’d be more worried about that than about autonomous killer robots.



Scientists Create Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA:

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA


A team of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, Calif., has created a brand-new bacteria based on a genetic structure found nowhere on Earth.

According to lead researcher Floyd Romesberg, the feat involved artificially engineering a unique combination of DNA material — a combination not found in any living creature — and then successfully inserting it into a living cell that usually contains only natural combinations of DNA.

“Life on Earth in all its diversity is encoded by only two pairs of DNA bases, A-T and C-G,” Romesberg explained in an institute news release. “And what we’ve made is an organism that stably contains those two plus a third, unnatural pair of bases.”

“This shows that other solutions to storing [genetic] information are possible,” he added, “and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications — from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology.”

Romesberg and his colleagues discuss their handiwork — funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health — in the May 7 online edition of Nature.

The product of more than 15 years of work, the current effort builds on a proof-of-concept study conducted in 2008. At that time, investigators had shown that hooking up natural and unnatural pairings of DNA was possible in a test-tube setting.

The next challenge was to replicate the process inside a living cell. The cell chosen by the TSRI team was the common E. coli bacterium, and into it they inserted what they considered to be the best unnatural DNA pairing they could construct: a combination of two molecules called “d5SICS” and “dNaM”.

After leaping through a series of highly complex technical problems, the study authors finally managed to pull off their goal: the fashioning on a half-synthetic organism that could actually replicate its unnatural self as long as scientists continuously supplied it with the necessary molecular material.

Romesberg said that, in principle, his team’s high-concept work has a very practical purpose: to gain a “greater power than ever” to fashion new treatments by harnessing the power of genetics.



Chemists produced artificial plastic cell

First Plastic Cell With Working Organelle:

chemists have successfully produced an artificial cell

Chemists have successfully produced an artificial cell

It is hard for chemists to match the chemistry in living cells In their laboratories.  In a cell many complex reactions are taking place in an overfull Simultaneously , small container , in various compartments and incredibly efficiently. This is why chemists attempt to imitate the cell in various ways. In doing so , they hope to learn more about the origin of life and the transition from chemistry to biology.

Jan van Hest and his PhD candidate. Their organelles Ruud Peters created by tiny spheres filling with chemicals and placing these inside a water droplet . They then cleverly covered the water droplet with a polymer layer – the cell wall . Using fluorescence , They were able to show the planned cascade of reactions, it did in fact take place . This means that they are the first polymer chemists to create a working cell with organelles . Just like in the cells in our bodies , the chemicals are able to enter the cell plasma following the reaction in the organelles , to be processed elsewhere in the cell .

Creating cell-like structures is currently very popular in the field of chemistry , with various methods being tried at the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM ) . Professor Wilhelm Huck, for example , is making cells from tiny droplets of solutions very similar to cytoplasm , and Van Hest ‘s group is building cells using polymers .

Competing groups are working closer to biology , making cells from fatty acids. We would like to do the same in the future . Another step would be to make cells produce their own energy supply . Also we are working on ways of controlling the movement of chemicals within the cell, organelles towards . By simulating these things , we are able to better understand living cells. One day we will even be able to make something that looks very much like the real thing.

Artificial bionic hand gets real feelings

New artificial, bionic hands start to get real feelings:

New artificial, bionic hands start to get real feelings

New artificial, bionic hands start to get real feelings

Simple tasks, like plucking the stem off a cherry, are still monumental challenges for artificial hands. With a bill of materials perhaps a few hundred components long, it is not surprising that their functionality is low compared with one assembled from trillions of components. A new prosthetic bionic hand, designed and built by researchers at Case Western University is now capable of using measurements from 20 sensor points to control the grip force of its digits. Incredibly, the sensor data is linked directly to the sensory nerves in the patient’s forearm. The control for the grip closure is then extracted myoelectrically from the normal biological return loop to the muscles in the forearm.

The key to making this device work is an instrument known as a cuff electrode. While these electrodes have been under development for decades for use as stimulators for the optic nerve, it has been difficult to get them to reliably stimulate axons for extended periods of time. The new cuffs used here are able to target individual groups of axons without actually penetrating the protective sheaths that segregate particular groups of them. As you can see in the picture below, a nerve has a complex cross section where individual channels exchange members continuously along their length. When multiple cuffs are eventually used on the same nerve, this particular feature of nerve bundles will come in handy because it provides a way to target different axons at different points in the nerve.


If for example, the first cuff stimulates more axons than is actually desired, the second cuff could, at least in theory, provide sub-threshold current to shunt particular axons that can be better targeted at the second cuff — in effect acting as firefighters do when they intentionally burn select areas to preempt the advance of an out-of-control forest fire, only a lot faster. In the forearm, there are three major nerves, the median, radial, and ulnar, which connect both motor and sensory axons within various funiculi. Just to clarify here, a nerve bundle, or funiculus, is in turn composed of several smaller nerve fasciculi. For now, the researchers use just one cuff per nerve, with the data from the 20 sensor points shared between them.

The key to targeting axons deep in the interior of the nerve is to filet them out like the header on a ribbon connector by using a flat cuff, instead of the traditional round design. It appears that the nerves can handle this seeming trauma because the two patients outfitted with these devices have shown good performance now for 18 months. We just heard that the world’s first official cyborg, Neil Harbisson, had his cybernaut status minted with a government seal of approval. He is even permitted to have his passport photo taken with head-mounted hardware. Provided this new bionic hand continues to function for the long haul, it seems that at least two more names might soon be added to that list.

Splenda Artificial Sweetener that Explodes Internally

The Artificial Sweetener that Explodes Internally:

Splenda: The Artificial Sweetener that Explodes Internally

Splenda: The Artificial Sweetener that Explodes Internally

If there were a contest for the best example of total disregard for human life the victor would be McNeil Nutritionals – makers of Splenda (sucralose). Manufacturers of Vioxx and Lipitor would tie for a very distant second. McNeil Nutritionals is the undisputed drug-pushing champion for disguising their drug Splenda as a sweetener. Regardless of its drug qualities and potential for side-effects, McNeil is dead set on putting it on every kitchen table in America. Apparently, Vioxx and Lipitor makers can’t stoop so low as to deceptively masquerade their drug as a candy of sort. There is no question that their products are drugs and by definition come with negative side-effects. Rather than sell directly to the consumer, these losers have to go through the painful process of using doctors to prescribe their dangerous goods. But not McNeil. A keen student in corporate drug dealing, McNeil learned from aspartame and saccharine pushers that if a drug tastes sweet then let the masses eat it in their cake. First though, you have to create a facade of natural health. They did this using a cute trade name that kind of sounds like splendid and packaged it in pretty colors. Hypnotized, the masses were duped instantly. As unquestionably as a dog humps your leg, millions of diabetics (and non-diabetics) blindly eat sucralose under the trade name Splenda in place of real sugar (sucrose). Splenda was strategically released on April fools day in 1998. This day is reserved worldwide for hoaxes and practical jokes on friends and family, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. McNeil certainly succeeded. The splendid Splenda hoax is costing gullible Americans $187 million annually. While many people “wonder” about the safety of Splenda they rarely question it. Despite its many “unknowns” and inherent dangers, Splenda demand has grown faster than its supply. No longer do I have to question my faith in fellow Man. He is not a total idiot, just a gullible one. McNeil jokesters are laughing all the way to the bank. Splenda is not as harmless as McNeil wants you to believe. A mixture of sucralose, maltodextrine and dextrose (a detrimental simple sugar), each of the not-so-splendid Splenda ingredients has downfalls. Aside from the fact that it really isn’t “sugar and calorie free,” here is one big reason to avoid the deceitful mix. Splenda contains a potential poison. Splenda contains the drug sucralose. This chemical is 600 times sweeter than sugar. To make sucralose, chlorine is used. Chlorine has a split personality. It can be harmless or it can be life threatening. In combo with sodium, chlorine forms a harmless “ionic bond” to yield table salt. Sucralose makers often highlight this worthless fact to defend its’ safety. Apparently, they missed the second day of Chemistry 101 – the day they teach “covalent” bonds. When used with carbon, the chlorine atom in sucralose forms a “covalent” bond. The end result is the historically deadly “organochlorine” or simply: a Really-Nasty Form of Chlorine (RNFOC). Unlike ionic bonds, covalently bound chlorine atoms are a big no-no for the human body. They yield insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides – not something you want in the lunch box of your precious child. It’s therefore no surprise that the originators of sucralose, chemists Hough and Phadnis, were attempting to design new insecticides when they discovered it! It wasn’t until the young Phadnis accidentally tasted his new “insecticide” that he learned it was sweet. And because sugars are more profitable than insecticides, the whole insecticide idea got canned and a new sweetener called Splenda got packaged. To hide its dirty origin, Splenda pushers assert that sucralose is “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.” Sucralose is as close to sugar as Windex is to ocean water. The RNFOC poses a real and present danger to all Splenda users. It’s risky because the RNFOC confers a molecule with a set of super powers that wreak havoc on the human body. For example, Agent Orange, used in the U.S Army’s herbicidal warfare program, is a RNFOC. Exposure can lead to Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma as well as diabetes and various forms of cancer! Other shocking examples are the war gas phosgene, chlordane and lindane. The RNFOC is lethal because it allows poisons to be fat soluble while rendering the natural defense mechanisms of the body helpless. A poison that is fat soluble is akin to a bomb exploding internally. It invades every nook and cranny of the body. Cell walls and DNA – the genetic map of human life – become nothing more than potential casualties of war when exposed. Sucralose is only 25% water soluble. Which means a vast majority of it may explode internally. In general, this results in weakened immune function, irregular heart beat, agitation, shortness of breath, skin rashes, headaches, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, cancer, cancer and more cancer – for generations! McNeil asserts that their studies prove it to be safe for everyone, even children. That’s little assurance. Learning from the Vioxx debacle which killed tens of thousands, we know that studies can be bought and results fabricated. Some things are worth dying for. Splenda is not one of them. What people think of as a food is a drug or slow poison – little distinction there. It wouldn’t be wise to bet your health on it. If safe, sucralose would be the first molecule in human history that contained a RNFOC fit for human consumption. This fact alone makes sucralose questionable for use as a sweetener, if not instantly detrimental to our health. Only time will tell. Until then, Ill stick to the safe and naturally occurring stevia plant to satisfy my occasional sweet tooth in 2007. Be forewarned though, as long as drugs can be legally disguised as sweeteners, watch out for drugs being disguised as vitamins…Oh wait, they are already doing that – think Lipitor.