Google cyber brain has curiosity for cats

But when Google let its latest cyber brain loose on the internet it went straight for cats. Photo / Thinkstock
But when Google let its latest cyber brain loose on the internet it went straight for cats. Photo / Thinkstock

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

But when Google let its latest cyber brain loose on the internet, it did what many humans would do when looking for some light entertainment it honed in on cats.

And while it may seem a frivolous activity to you and me, the scientists say it is in fact 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 it was fed a procession of 10 million random images from YouTube, it instead managed to teach 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, unlabeled data, without any human help.

Dr Jeff Dean, one of the Google scientists 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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