Google AI project apes memory, programs (sort of) like a human

Neural Turing Machines attempt to emulate the brain's short-term memory

Artificial intelligence concept illustration

An artificial intelligence concept illustration.

abstract, android, artificial, binary, blue, brain, cell, communication, computer, concept, connection, creative, cyber, cybernetic, cyberspace, cyborg, data, digit, digital, fantasy, fiction, future, futuristic, fuzzy, head, human, idea, illustration, imagination, informatics, information, dreamstime

dreamstime_29416761

Artificial intelligence concept illustration

An artificial intelligence concept illustration.

abstract, android, artificial, binary, blue, brain, cell, communication, computer, concept, connection, creative, cyber, cybernetic, cyberspace, cyborg, data, digit, digital, fantasy, fiction, future, futuristic, fuzzy, head, human, idea, illustration, imagination, informatics, information, dreamstime

dreamstime_29416761

The mission of Google's DeepMind Technologies startup is to "solve intelligence." Now, researchers there have developed an artificial intelligence system that can mimic some of the brain's memory skills and even program like a human.

The researchers developed a kind of neural network that can use external memory, allowing it to learn and perform tasks based on stored data.

Neural networks are interconnected computational "neurons." While conventional neural networks have lacked readable and writeable memory, they have been used in machine learning and pattern-recognition applications such as computer vision and speech recognition.

The so-called Neural Turing Machine (NTM) that DeepMind researchers have been working on combines a neural network controller with a memory bank, giving it the ability to learn to store and retrieve information.

The system's name refers to computer pioneer Alan Turing's formulation of computers as machines having working memory for storage and retrieval of data.

The researchers put the NTM through a series of tests including tasks such as copying and sorting blocks of data. Compared to a conventional neural net, the NTM was able to learn faster and copy longer data sequences with fewer errors. They found that its approach to the problem was comparable to that of a human programmer working in a low-level programming language.

The NTM "can infer simple algorithms such as copying, sorting and associative recall from input and output examples," DeepMind's Alex Graves, Greg Wayne and Ivo Danihelka wrote in a research paper available on the arXiv repository.

"Our experiments demonstrate that it is capable of learning simple algorithms from example data and of using these algorithms to generalize well outside its training regime."

A spokesman for Google declined to provide more information about the project, saying only that the research is "quite a few layers down from practical applications."

In a 2013 paper, Graves and colleagues showed how they had used a technique known as deep reinforcement learning to get DeepMind software to learn to play seven classic Atari 2600 video games, some better than a human expert, with the only input being information visible on the game screen.

Google confirmed earlier this year that it had acquired London-based DeepMind Technologies, founded in 2011 as an artificial intelligence company. The move is expected to have a major role in advancing the search giant's research into robotics, self-driving cars and smart-home technologies.

More recently, DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis wrote in a blog post that Google is partnering with artificial intelligence researchers from Oxford University to study topics including image recognition and natural language understanding.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceGoogleEmerging Technologies

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?