AI will try to paint what you tell it to, often generating surreal horrors

A research team wrote about how they trained a machine-learning AI to generate images from text descriptions. When fed birds as its dataset, it got very good at painting birds...

... But the more you feed it, the crazier it gets.

More collected here, and you can try it yourself thanks to Chris Valenzuela's online implementation.

Here are my efforts.

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Here's the funniest, most scathing, most informative and most useful talk on AI and security

James Mickens (previously) has a well-deserved reputation for being the information security world's funniest speaker, and if that were all he did, he would still be worth listening to. Read the rest

A machine learning system trained on scholarly journals could correct Wikipedia's gendered under-representation problem

Quicksilver is a machine-learning tool from AI startup Primer: it used 30,000 Wikipedia entries to create a model that allowed it to identify the characteristics that make a scientist noteworthy enough for encyclopedic inclusion; then it mined the academic search-engine Semantic Scholar to identify the 200,000 scholars in a variety of fields; now it is systematically composing draft Wikipedia entries for scholars on its list who are missing from the encyclopedia. Read the rest

There's something eerie about bots that teach themselves to cheat

One of the holy grails of computer science is unsupervised machine learning, where you tell an algorithm what goal you want it to attain, and give it some data to practice on, and the algorithm uses statistics to invent surprising ways of solving your problem. Read the rest

Check out these machine-learned Burning Man camp names

The theme of this year's Burning Man is I, Robot, which focuses "on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives..." So, naturally, someone trained a neural network to come up with some camp names.

It spit out believable names like Spankles, Astro Sparkin, and Space Rock Screamin Camp, as well as weirder names like Corn Viral Hammers, Wiq Renames Spaghette, and Hellball Lounge. Then it went with some truly bizarre ones like Cohnie Stacefur Ass Chaos, Sir Liberains the Wreck Middle, and Awes Orpoop.

The woman behind the experiment, research scientist Janelle Shane, writes:

Thanks to an anonymous burner, I had a list of 1593 past Burning Man camps to feed to a neural network. A neural network is a kind of machine learning algorithm that learns to imitate the data it sees. My starting point was a textgen-rnn neural net that had been previously trained on metal bands and roller derby names, so it had a few ideas of its own to bring to the table. It did not disappoint.

There's a bunch more of these machine-learned camp names over at Shane's site.

Let's hope life imitates art and some Burners out there actually create one (or more) of these camps this year on the playa!

Image via simon of the playa

Thanks, Dan S.! Read the rest

Android's keyboard will no longer autocomplete "sit" with "on my face" thanks to me

Last week, I sent an SMS to our babysitter that said, "Hey, are you free to sit on," and rather than offering autocomplete suggestions like "Saturday" or "Friday," the default Android keyboard suggested "on my face and." Read the rest

The Russian equivalent to Alexa is a "good girl" but not too friendly, and is totally OK with wife-beating

Yandex is Russia's answer to Weibo, an everything-under-one-(semi-state-controlled)-roof online service, and its answer to Alexa is Alisa. Read the rest

Voice assistants suck, but they suck worse if you have an "accent"

Research into the shittiness of voice assistants zeroed in on a problem that many people were all-too-aware of: the inability of these devices to recognize "accented" speech ("accented" in quotes because there is no one formally correct English, and the most widely spoken English variants, such as Indian English, fall into this "accented" category). Read the rest

The ACLU showed that Amazon's facial recognition system thinks members of Congress are felons, so now Congress is taking action

After learning that Amazon was pushing the use of Rekognition, its facial recognition tool, for use in policing (a global phenomenon that is gaining momentum despite the material unsuitability of these tools in policing contexts), the ACLU of Northern California had a brainwave: they asked Rekognition to evaluate the faces of the 115th Congress of the United States. Read the rest

Google Translate's deep dream: some translation requests yield weird religious prophesies

Feed 19 repetitions of the word "dog" to Google Translate and ask it for a Maori conversion and you get this: "Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve. We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return." Read the rest

Wildbook: facial recognition for critters in the wild

The Wildbook project conducts wild animal population censuses by combining photos of animals taken by tourists, scientists, and volunteers and then using their distinctive features (zebra stripes, whale fluke shapes, leopard spots, etc) to identify individuals and produces unprecedented data that uses creepy facial recognition tools for non-creepy purposes. Read the rest

Dank Learning: teaching a machine learning algorithm to generate memes

A physics student and an engineering student from Stanford fed 400,000 memes to a Long Short-Term Memory Recurrent Neural Network and asked it to generate more memes of its own. Read the rest

The new Deep Fakes are in and they're spookily good

SIGGRAPH is coming, when all the amazeballs graphics research drops, and the previews are terrifying and astonishing by turns (sometimes both!). Read the rest

Machine learning may be most useful in tiny, embedded, offline processors

The tiny embedded processors in smart gadgets -- including much of the Internet of Shit -- are able to do a lot of sensing without exhausting their batteries, because sensing is cheap in terms of power consumption. Read the rest

Citing bad publicity and internal dissent, Google announces it won't renew contract to supply AI for US military drones

Google knew that Project Maven, its contract to supply AI to US military drones would be unpopular, but they were chasing hundreds of millions of dollars in follow-on contracts, and even though dozens of engineers quit over the project, at least they got a snazzy mission patch. Read the rest

The most interesting thing about the "Thanksgiving Effect" study is what it tells us about the limits of data anonymization

Late last year, a pair of economists released an interesting paper that used mobile location data to estimate the likelihood that political polarization had shortened family Thanksgiving dinners in 2016. Read the rest

Count your bees with a Raspberry Pi and machine learning

Sure, you worry about your bees, what with colony collapse disorder, but they're hard to count! Read the rest

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