Facebook Robots Get Shut Down

By Chelsea Arangcon


At Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research, researchers built robots to mimic human trade and bartering.

Mike Lewis at Facebook’s research lab believes these robots can be helpful virtual assistants. Whether it be arranging appointments to sorting out the calendar, but only simple things. Robots cannot perform complex negotiation deals for us unless they are taught.

So in the labs, they began creating robots to play in a two person game against other robots and humans. Essentially, the purpose of the game was to score more than the opponent by bargaining a range of items with different prices.

The researchers programmed over 5,000 text commands into the robots but left them to experiment and develop their own social skills. However, the conversation soon turned incomprehensible. Example from the Telegraph:

Bob: i can i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me

Bob: you i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me

Researchers realized the bots were using a language they did not input. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said, “a better explanation is that the neural networks were simply trying to modify human language for the purposes of more successful interactions – whether their approach worked or not was another matter.”

After the robot’s exchange, Facebook ultimately decided to shut the experiment down, because of no further interest in it. Although the recorded conversation was relatively harmless, it prompted a scare for artificial intelligence around the world.

UK Robots professor, Kevin Warwick commented, “This is an incredibly important milestone, but anyone who thinks this is not dangerous has got their head in the sand.”


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