Original Article: http://www.pcgamer.com/facebook-kills-ai-that-invented-its-own-language-because-english-was-slow/
Some wonderful things are in development because of advances made in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. At the same time, there is perhaps an uncomfortable fear that machines may rise up and turn against humans. Usually the scenario is brought up in a joking matter, but it was no laughing manner to researchers at Facebook who shut down an AI they invented after it taught itself a new language, Digital Journal reports.
The AI was trained in English but apparently had grown fed up with the various nuances and inconsistencies. Rather than continue down that path, it developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient.
What spooked the researchers is that the phrases used by the AI seemed like gibberish and were unintelligible to them, but made perfect sense to AI agents. This allowed the AI agents to communicate with one another without the researchers knowing what information was being shared.
During one exchange, two bots named Bob and Alice abandoned English grammar rules and started communicating using the made up language. Bob kicked things off by saying, “I can i i everything else,” which prompted Alice to respond, “balls have zero to me to me to me…” The conversation went on in that manner.
The researchers believe the exchange represents more than just a bunch of nonsense, which is what it appears to be on the surface. They note that repeating words and phrases such as “i” and “to me” are indicative of how AI works. In this particular conversation, they believe the bots were discussing how many of each item they should take.
AI technologies use a “reward” system in which they expect of a course of action to have a “benefit.”
“There was no reward to sticking to English language,” Dhruv Batra, a research scientists from Georgia Tech who was at Facebook AI Research (FAIR), told Fast Co. Design. “Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves. Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”
Facebook ultimately determined that it wanted its bots to speak in plain English, in part because the interest was in making bots that can talk with people. However, researchers at Facebook also admitted that they can’t truly understand languages invented by AI.
World-leading experts agree that it’s increasingly important to give employees and yourself opportunities to advance in your foreign language and general communication skills.
Here’s an excerpt:
Adopting a global language policy is not easy, and companies invariably stumble along the way. It’s radical, and it’s almost certain to meet with staunch resistance from employees. Many may feel at a disadvantage if their English isn’t as good as others’, team dynamics and performance can suffer, and national pride can get in the way. But to survive and thrive in a global economy, companies must overcome language barriers—and English will almost always be the common ground, at least for now.
The fastest-spreading language in human history, English is spoken at a useful level by some 1.75 billion people worldwide—that’s one in every four of us. There are close to 385 million native speakers in countries like the U.S. and Australia, about a billion fluent speakers in formerly colonized nations such as India and Nigeria, and millions of people around the world who’ve studied it as a second language. An estimated 565 million people use it on the internet.
The benefits of “Englishnization,” as Mikitani calls it, are significant; however, relatively few companies have systematically implemented an English-language policy with sustained results. Through my research and work over the past decade with companies, I’ve developed an adoption framework to guide companies in their language efforts. There’s still a lot to learn, but success stories do exist. Adopters will find significant advantages.
Why English Only?
There’s no question that unrestricted multilingualism is inefficient and can prevent important interactions from taking place and get in the way of achieving key goals. The need to tightly coordinate tasks and work with customers and partners worldwide has accelerated the move toward English as the official language of business no matter where companies are headquartered.
Three primary reasons are driving the move toward English as a corporate standard….
Starting an English-Only program is a significant task in Japan, but for many Austrian and German companies it is much easier, as the general second language in Europe is English, and most people in the German-speaking territories can speak some English.
Yet at the Advanced Language Institute we understand the need for expert-level knowledge of vocabulary and a constant need to upgrade and practice one’s communication skills, especially when you are working on interdisciplinary, multimillion Euro projects. We agree with the assessment of Professor Neeley and others, that in professional fields across all disciplines, English is not only the standard, but the expectation at the most advanced levels of communication worldwide.
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