Google DeepMind’s artificial intelligence (AI) was already pretty smart, but it just got a whole lot smarter.
When its Alpha Go programme beat world-class Go players earlier this year, it did so by studying millions of Go moves and predicting its rivals’ responses.
But its memory was still pretty limited in comparison with a normal computer’s.
Google’s researchers have now made it even smarter by marrying the brain-like processor known as a neural network with an external memory.
“These models [...] can learn from examples like neural networks, but they can also store complex data like computers,” DeepMind researchers explained.
The new system, a Differential Neural Computer (DNC), will be able to draw on everything it’s ever learned, helping it tackle even more complicated tasks.
DeepMind researchers used a couple of fairly simple examples to explain how the DNC is able to navigate around its own memory.
In a short video, researchers show the DNC registering the different relationships in a family tree.
The DNC can deduce, for example, that Freya’s maternal great uncle is Fergus by connecting the dots between different relations.
In a DeepMind blog, researchers Alexander Graves and Greg Wayne said that the DNC provides a new way for scientists to think about the brain:
“The question of how human memory works is ancient and our understanding still developing.
“We hope that DNCs provide both a new tool for computer science and a new metaphor for cognitive science and neuroscience: here is a learning machine that, without prior programming, can organise information into connected facts and use those facts to solve problems.”