In the latest apocalyptic news in the already pretty apocalyptic 2017, Facebook had two robots shut down after they created their own language.
The researchers originally thought the language they were using to talk to each other was nonsense, but it soon became clear there was proper communication between the two.
The robots, Bob and Alice, had begun to make up their own code words.
They were originally programmed to use English, but apparently stopped using the language abruptly.
According to Fast Co Design, Bob said: “I can I I everything else.”
Alice replied: “Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to.”
Of course, this seems like absolute gibberish, but it is actually a conversation between the two most sophisticated AI softwares on the planet.
It was communicated with more ‘speed and efficiency – and perhaps, hidden nuance – than you or I ever could’.
Dhruv Batra, research scientist from Georgia Tech at Facebook AI Research said:
There was no reward to sticking to English language. Agents will drift off understandable language and invent code words 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 short hands.
Despite this similarity, Facebook shut off the robots as they were more interested in having robots that could converse with humans.
Apparently this isn’t the first time this has happened, Facebook has published numerous papers that prove it can be done.
Google Translate has also created an inter-language that it uses to more efficiently translate all the other languages in its database.
Of course, this raises all kinds of ethical, societal and scientific issues.
Should we allow the robots to communicate more effectively in order to properly perform the functions that we have set out for them?
Surely that would create a much more interconnected digital world for humans to take advantage of?
Of course, the downside of that is that we would be unlikely to ever understand what it was that the AIs were saying.
And that might be too big a risk to take.
Either way, I’m preparing my apocalypse kit.