Google creates neural network, teaches itself to recognize cats

By on June 27, 2012, 4:30 PM

Google engineers claim they've designed a computer network capable of analyzing, categorizing and ultimately teaching itself to recognize the content of images. The "neural network" was fed 10 million images from YouTube video thumbnails and -- without being told how -- created its own concept of what a cat is.

In fact, programmers found that the system had created a fuzzy, dream-like image of a cat's face from scratch (pictured to the right) as at least one generic reference used for identifying felines.

"We never told it during the training, ‘This is a cat,’ " said Dr. Dean, who originally helped Google design the software that lets it easily break programs into many tasks that can be computed simultaneously. "It basically invented the concept of a cat. We probably have other ones that are side views of cats."

Source: nytimes.com

Along with its keen sense for identifying lolcats, the cluster of 1000 computers (16,000 CPU cores) did a fine job recognizing faces and body parts. Since all of the images originated from 200x200 pixel YouTube thumbnails, it is reasonable to assume the system has also developed a solid concept of "cleavage" and "Justin Bieber", too.

Despite being powered by 16,000 cores, it still took three days to complete the analysis of 10 million thumbnails. However, the results produced by Google's "brain" were nearly twice as accurate as previous attempts.

Image and facial recognition is nothing new. Google's Picasa photo organizing software, for example, does a surprisingly good job at analyzing the faces of your friends. In applications like Picasa though, programmers had to explicitly define what to look for when trying to programmatically separate faces. If what Google researchers say is true, this new system is capable of drawing its own distinctions.

Although researchers were cautious about drawing such parallels, they found that the collection of processors, memory, algorithms and cabling bore an undeniable similarity to its biological analogue -- a brain.

"A loose and frankly awful analogy is that our numerical parameters correspond to synapses," Dr. Andrew Ng said. "It is worth noting that our network is still tiny compared to the human visual cortex, which is a million times larger in terms of the number of neurons and synapses".




User Comments: 22

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Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Prepare for skynet jokes...

yorro said:

Oh god, it is really happening

Sniped_Ash said:

Prepare for skynet jokes...

So how long until this thing recognizes a threat to its own existence?

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As long as this thing has a plug or a switch off I'm all for it, if not we are doomed. Wasn't expecting Google to be the one to do it but its not far now, but its unlikely they are the only ones who have this technology. Throw an actual super computer behind this software and Bam! just like that humans will be extinct. And I don't think this is "jokes" its a serious concern dealing with artificial intelligence.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

What everyone here fails to realize, and what I will point out, is that this is a very dangerous advance in computer processing technology. Sure, it's cool right now. Who wouldn't want a machine capable of hunting down images with the accuracy and precision of a human being? But today it's just a picture of a cute little kitty. Tomorrow it's your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle!

You may laugh now, but it wont be funny in ten years when you're trying to explain to your wife that the reason you couldn't make it to dinner last night was because you were too busy being robbed by a tin man in a skin suit.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

The brain is such an amazing thing. Whether you believe God created it or it evolved (or both) it is almost laughable how much effort and resources it takes us to crudely mimic one aspect of it. Having said that I do not think we have to worry about artificial intelligence problems any time soon. If you're worried about being robbed by a tin man just carry a taser or a bucket of water perhaps.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The brain is such an amazing thing. Whether you believe God created it or it evolved (or both) it is almost laughable how much effort and resources it takes us to crudely mimic one aspect of it. Having said that I do not think we have to worry about artificial intelligence problems any time soon. If you're worried about being robbed by a tin man just carry a taser or a bucket of water perhaps.

Or wait for the BSOD. =)

Scshadow said:

The brain is such an amazing thing. Whether you believe God created it or it evolved (or both) it is almost laughable how much effort and resources it takes us to crudely mimic one aspect of it. Having said that I do not think we have to worry about artificial intelligence problems any time soon. If you're worried about being robbed by a tin man just carry a taser or a bucket of water perhaps.

I think you underestimate the exponential growth of technology. There are technologies being researched that offer seemingly endless amount of technological growth. Either God (...yeah right) designed our brains so excuse us for our inherent disadvantage, or evolution created our brains and did so in the span of how many millions of years? Well excuse us, we've barely even had a chance to scratch the surface of studying such technology. First electrical computer wasn't even a hundred years ago. First personal computer wasn't even 40 years ago. Pretty stupid to say we don't have to worry about it any time soon. Especially if at any point a computer starts innovating for themselves. Think of AI as a snow ball, once it gets rolling down a hill. Not a chance in hell you can stop it. AI with access to the internet can replicate itself and hack access into any system out there. If it finds a way to supplement its hardware without human control over the process, expansion is limitless.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think you underestimate the exponential growth of technology. There are technologies being researched that offer seemingly endless amount of technological growth.

And you underestimate the complexity of the human mind. Talk to some scientists that have studied neural networks, not just read Kurzweil, its not that simple, not just a matter of a networking enough Nvidia cards together until they come up with an AI.

Guest said:

Typical sensation press to attract viewers and increase advertising revenue.

avoidz avoidz said:

Come with me if you want to live.

Emexrulsier said:

Cool that means we are one step closer to making a robot that will kill Justin Bieber on sight

jeffz6 said:

The brain is such an amazing thing. Whether you believe God created it or it evolved (or both) it is almost laughable how much effort and resources it takes us to crudely mimic one aspect of it. Having said that I do not think we have to worry about artificial intelligence problems any time soon. If you're worried about being robbed by a tin man just carry a taser or a bucket of water perhaps.

I think you underestimate the exponential growth of technology. There are technologies being researched that offer seemingly endless amount of technological growth. Either God (...yeah right) designed our brains so excuse us for our inherent disadvantage, or evolution created our brains and did so in the span of how many millions of years? Well excuse us, we've barely even had a chance to scratch the surface of studying such technology. First electrical computer wasn't even a hundred years ago. First personal computer wasn't even 40 years ago. Pretty stupid to say we don't have to worry about it any time soon. Especially if at any point a computer starts innovating for themselves. Think of AI as a snow ball, once it gets rolling down a hill. Not a chance in hell you can stop it. AI with access to the internet can replicate itself and hack access into any system out there. If it finds a way to supplement its hardware without human control over the process, expansion is limitless.

What? are you worried there will be somthing else other than humans that kill humans?

miska_man said:

Come with me if you want to live.

Currently loading up the band wagon! Grab yo kids, grab yo wife, grab yo shotgun! Ain't no computer stand a 12 gauge shell to the head...I mean...RAM slot? I dunno, we kill it somehow!

Zeromus said:

I hope they release the source code, so we can look back on our neural network influenced future CPUs and download legacy software from years ago to identify cats for the hey.

DanUK DanUK said:

I think you underestimate the exponential growth of technology. There are technologies being researched that offer seemingly endless amount of technological growth.

And you underestimate the complexity of the human mind. Talk to some scientists that have studied neural networks, not just read Kurzweil, its not that simple, not just a matter of a networking enough Nvidia cards together until they come up with an AI.

+1

I find this a hell of a lot more exciting than worrying.

Leeky Leeky said:

Cool that means we are one step closer to making a robot that will kill Justin Bieber on sight

If only! Lol!!

dcnc123 dcnc123 said:

This is exciting..... technology is sure fast....

carlwh123 said:

Am I too late to make a Sky-net joke?

Leeky Leeky said:

I'm listening Carlwh123.......

Guest said:

with another nanotechnology and quantum computing breakthrough, skynet jokes is possible, after skynet jokes where war raging between human and machine, then there comes matrix jokes where human slaved by machine *LoL :D

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