'Ex Machina', here we come: A new algorithm helps computers learn the way we do

In a 'visual Turing test,' human judges couldn't tell them apart

Machine learning is all about getting computers to "understand" new concepts, but it's still a pretty inefficient process, often requiring hundreds of examples for training. That may soon change, however, thanks to new research published on Friday.

Aiming to shorten the learning process and make it more like the way humans acquire and apply new knowledge based on just a few examples, a team of researchers has developed what they call a Bayesian Program Learning framework and then used it to teach computers to identify and reproduce handwritten characters based on just a single example.

Whereas standard pattern-recognition algorithms represent concepts as configurations of pixels or collections of features, the BPL approach learns by “explaining” the data provided to the algorithm -- in this case, the sample character. Concepts are represented as probabilistic computer programs and the algorithm essentially programs itself by constructing code to produce the letter it sees. It can also capture variations in the way different people draw a given letter.

The model also “learns to learn” by using knowledge from previous concepts to speed learning on new ones, so it can use knowledge of the Latin alphabet to learn letters in the Greek alphabet more quickly, for example.

Most compelling of all is that the algorithm allowed computers to pass a sort of "visual Turing test." Specifically, the researchers asked both humans and computers to reproduce a series of handwritten characters after being shown just a single example of each; in some cases, subjects were asked to create entirely new characters in the style of those originally shown. Bottom line: human judges couldn't tell the results apart.

The researchers have applied their model to more than 1,600 types of handwritten characters in 50 writing systems, including Sanskrit, Tibetan, Gujarati and Glagolitic. They even tried it on invented characters such as those from the television series "Futurama."

A paper describing the research was published Friday in the journal Science. Its authors were Brenden Lake, a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at New York University; Ruslan Salakhutdinov, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto; and Joshua Tenenbaum, a professor at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines.

“It has been very difficult to build machines that require as little data as humans when learning a new concept,” said Salakhutdinov. “Replicating these abilities is an exciting area of research connecting machine learning, statistics, computer vision, and cognitive science.”

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

looking for the best quality of SMM Panel ( Social Media Marketing Panel ) is a website where People Buy Social Media Services Such as Fa...

Kavin kyzal

How to manage social media during Covid-19

Read more

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Definitely bookmarked for future reading! Check this website https://a2designlab.com/ with lots of ...

Pierce Fabreverg

Study: Gen Z are huge opportunity for brands

Read more

Thanks for sharing. You might want to check this website https://lagimcardgame.com/. An up and coming strategic card game wherein the cha...

Pierce Fabreverg

Board games distributor partners with Deliveroo in business strategy pivot

Read more

Such an important campaign, dyslexia certainly need more awareness. Amazing to see the work Code Read is doing. On the same note we are a...

Hugo

New campaign aims to build understanding around scope and impact of dyslexia

Read more

Great Job on this article! It demonstrates how much creativity, strategy and effort actually goes to produce such unique logo and brandin...

Pierce Fabreverg

Does your brand need a personality review? - Brand vision - CMO Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Predicting the Future: Marketing science or marketing myth?

Unicorns, the Sunken City of Atlantis, Zeus: They are very famous. So famous in fact, that we often think twice about whether they are real or not. Sometimes if we talk about something widely enough, and for long enough, even the strangest fiction can seem like fact. But ultimately it is still fiction - stories we make up and tell ourselves over and over until we believe.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Winning means losing in the game of customer retention

At a time of uncertainty and economic hardship, customer retention takes on much greater importance. CX Lavender’s Linda O’Grady examines the big grey area between ‘all’ and ‘best’ customers when deciding who is worth fighting for and how.

Linda O'Grady

Data Strategy Partner & Business Partner, CX Lavender

Sign in