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8 August 2017

Why Facebook’s AI termination raises safety concerns

A researcher at Facebook AI Research (Fair) has admitted that the social media giant’s team decided to unplug two bots after they began communicating in their own, English-like language, which was unintelligible to humans. AI researcher Dhruv Batra told the website Co.Design that the team had developed chatbot agents with the ability to negotiate using what is called an “adversarial network”. In a Facebook blog, the researchers explained how, in some instances, their chatbots initially feigned interest in a valueless item, only to later “compromise” by conceding it – an effective negotiating tactic that people use regularly. “This behaviour was not programmed by the researchers, but was discovered by the bot as a method of trying to achieve its goals,” said Facebook. One of the findings from the experiment was that although the chatbots repeated sentences from training data, the research work showed that AI models are capable of generalising when necessary. “It is possible that language can be compressed, not just to save ...

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