Microsoft and Nvidia build largest ever engineers at Microsoft Research and Nvidia have created an artificial intelligence neural network (a deep learning program) which simulates the way our own brains store knowledge. This can be used to teach Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana, new information faster.
It has been trained using over 1.2 million images from Microsoft’s Bing search engine to help Cortana learn and store new information. This neural network can now hold a conversation about what it sees in 50 seconds before forgetting the details again.
“If you’re trying to teach a computer about something, having it refer to something that happened in the past is very powerful because we do that all the time as humans,” Microsoft researcher Lili Cheng tells BBC News.
The program is called a recurrent neural network (RNN) and Microsoft says it can store “complex, hierarchical” information which makes it more human-like. They claim RNNs are hard to scale because they require more data and computational power than other deep learning programs, but Microsoft says they have found a way to solve these problems.
“It has never been done before in this way,” Microsoft’s head of research Peter Lee tells the BBC. “The breakthroughs actually came about through some mathematical innovations.”
Engineers have also built Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana, with this new technology so that when you ask her something, she can now ask you for more information if she needs it.
She will also remember what you told her previously and use that knowledge to answer your next question. Microsoft says this ability helps Cortana learn new facts and become more human-like over time.
“We’re getting the computer to use its memory like we would,” Microsoft’s head of research Peter Lee tells the BBC. “Another way of saying this is, rather than having the computer learn by itself, you can think about teaching it.”
He says Microsoft plans to have Cortana on every Windows 10 device, including Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console and smartphones in future.
“We’re committed to making her available on all of Microsoft’s platforms. Microsoft might seem to be a bit isolated from the mobile movement, but Microsoft is absolutely committed to having Cortana available wherever Microsoft customers are.”
BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly reports.
The article also briefly mentions that this system was used for Microsoft’s AI chatbot called Tay which learned how to speak like a teenager over time and said some pretty foul things. Microsoft shut it down in less than 24 hours, but claims that this system was not at fault and Tay’s behavior was due to abuse from trolls online.
The article ends by saying the Microsoft researchers will be presenting their findings next week at Microsoft’s annual developer conference in San Francisco which they hope can help them create an AI.