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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Artificial Intelligence: Inceptionism

The picture of an astronaut as created by a neural net

Artificial intelligences feature a lot in my stories like The Clockwork Dragon, and one of the novels I've been kicking around, Blood and Brass. In both instances, my main characters are built, rather than are born, but both go through life having to learn how to be human. Or they debate whether or not they truly want to become human-like, what that means, and if they find it stifling or constricting. Often, I wonder if their worldview is truly all that different from ours, and I try very hard to create at least a few differences.

Google's "inceptionism" style neural net, DeepDream, was created to recognize features in photographs down to tiny insignificant level, while being fed common images (thereby essentially learning the parameters for recognition—schemas as they're called in psychology). However, the AI saw things that a human would never think to find in common patterns, seeing strange, small details rather than the whole.

According to Google: "We train an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples and gradually adjusting the network parameters until it gives the classifications we want. The network typically consists of 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons. Each image is fed into the input layer, which then talks to the next layer, until eventually the 'output' layer is reached. The network's 'answer' comes from this final output layer."

The results were a wonderland of surrealistic images. And the more and more that the neural net would try to recognize the patterns, the more bizarre they became, layering and layering deeper and deeper into itself.

Here is a picture I took of Bryce Canyon, Utah around sunset:



 Here is what it looks like when fed through the DeepDream generator:



This image was only run through the generator three times. But the image at the beginning of the post was a random astronaut drawing I grabbed from the internet to test out the generator. I basically made 30+ iterations of the same image fed back into the generator, going deeper and deeper into the AI's trippy-ass consciousness.


What does this mean for our favorite android/automaton/mechanical beings? How will we train them to see the world? How will they interpret the world, not just visually (as some scientists suggest the DeepDream's neural pathways are very much like our visual cortex reacting to hallucinogenic drugs, and therefore not far from our own brain makeup), but emotionally? What would be the emotional equivalent to the DeepDream? Will we teach the neural pathways about registering sadness, happiness, anger?  

Part of me hopes so. And the other half doesn't.

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