Ten-dollar AI

by

Kevin Kelly writes:

The other day Will Wright, the genius behind Sim City and the Sims, handed me this tennis ball-size orb and said, “It knows what you are thinking.” Most of the time it will guess what you have in mind after asking you twenty yes/no questions. It is eerily smart, and slightly addictive. I see it as an educational toy.

Burned into its 8-bit chip is a neural net that has been learning for 17 years. Inventor Robin Burgener programmed a simple neural net on a DOS machine 1988…In 1995 Burgener put the now robust neural net onto the new web where anyone could play it (that is, train it) 24 hours a day.

The toy is remarkable. Because it is so small, so autonomous, its intelligence is shocking to the unprepared. Most children can’t stump it, and if you stick to objects it will stump smart adults about 80% of the time with 20 questions and most of the time with an additional 5 questions. I love to watch people’s reactions when they think of a “hard” thing, and after a seemingly irrational set of questions you are convinced are dumb, the sly ball tells you what you had in mind. (For instance, it can correctly guess “flying squirrel”without asking “does it fly?”) People who play chess machines won’t be surprised, but just about everyone else is tickled. It feels like the future.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: