MIT researchers are working to create neural networks that are no longer black boxes

neural networks explain themselves avaexmachina
A24
Whether you like it — as companies like Google certainly do — or don’t entirely trust it — logical artificial intelligence proponent Selmer Bringsjord being one outspoken critic — there is no denying that brain-inspired deep learning neural networks have proven capable of making significant advances in a number of AI-related fields over the past decade.

But that is not to say it is perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

“Deep learning has led to some big advances in computer vision, natural language processing, and other areas,” Tommi Jaakkola, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of electrical engineering and computer science, told Digital Trends. “It’s tremendously flexible in terms of learning input/output mappings, but the flexibility and power comes at a cost. That is it that it’s very difficult to work out why it is performing a certain prediction in a particular context.”

This black-boxed lack of transparency would be one thing if deep learning systems were still confined to being lab experiments, but they are not. Today, AI systems are increasingly rolling out into the real world — and that means they need to be available for scrutiny by humans.

“This becomes a real issue in any situation where there are consequences to making a prediction, or actions that are taken on the basis of that prediction,” Jaakkola said.

Fortunately, that is where a new project from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) comes into play. What researchers there have come up with is preliminary work showing that it is possible to train neural networks in such a way that they do not just offer predictions and classifications, but also rationalize their decision.

For the study, the researchers examined neural nets that were trained on textual data. This network was divided into two modules: one which extracted segments of text and scored them on their length and coherence, the second which performed the job of predicting or classifying.

A data set the researchers tested their system on was a group of reviews from a website in which users rated beers. The data the researchers used included both a text review and also a corresponding star review, ranked out of five. With these inputs and outputs, the researchers were able to fine-tune a system which “thought” along the same lines as human reviewers — thereby making its decisions more understandable.

Ultimately, the system’s agreement with human annotations was 96 percent and 95 percent, respectively, when predicting ratings of beer appearance and aroma, and 80 percent when predicting palate.

The research is still in its early stages, but it is an intriguing advance in developing AI systems which make sense to human creators and can justify decisions accordingly.

“The question of justifying predictions will be a prevalent issue across complex AI systems,” Jaakkola said. “They need to be able to communicate with people. Whether the solution is this particular architecture or not remains to be seen. Right now, we’re in the process of revising this work and making it more sophisticated. But it absolutely opens up an area of research that is very important.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Why get anything bigger? The new Mac Mini is all the desktop you need

Apple’s new Mac Mini doesn’t look much different from its predecessor, and it’s more expensive. Yet the changes under the hood make a case for its consideration as your new Mac. Can this entry-level machine hold its own?
Movies & TV

Disney+ streaming service gets a new name, logo, and more confirmed content

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Photography

Premiere Pro A.I. plug-in for Adobe paints your videos in the style of van Gogh

CyberLink is bringing its suite of artificial intelligence-based video effects directly to Adobe users as a plug-in for Premiere Pro. The A.I. Style video plug-in "redraws" video in the styles of artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Photography

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

‘Bionic mushroom’ can generate electricity without using fossil fuels

Researchers have come up with a way to produce electricity without fossil fuels using mushrooms covered with bacteria. The mushroom provides a safe environment for special cyanobacteria that generate electricity when light is shone on them.
Emerging Tech

Curiosity rover active and drilling again after computer issue

The Curiosity rover has succeeded in drilling a hole into the tough bedrock that previously defeated it, allowing imaging and collection of samples. The rover had been incapacitated for a few weeks due to problems with its computer.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover two rogue planets that do not orbit a star

Astronomers have identified two rogue planets in our galaxy which do not orbit around a star. Unlike the vast majority of discovered planets, these rogue planets drift through space alone with no sun to shine on them.
Emerging Tech

Pairs of supermassive black holes spotted in colliding galaxies

Astronomers have discovered several pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies that are colliding with each other. These black holes will spiral closer and closer together and eventually merge into one supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Quantum-based accelerometer can locate objects without GPS

Researchers have created a quantum "compass" that allows navigation without satellites. The instrument, technically called a standalone quantum accelerometer, is small enough to be transportable and has a very high level of accuracy.
Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.