Learning Language Continuously

By Tim Moran  |  Posted 2010-12-21 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Computers that keep adding to their knowledge over time.

Live and Learn—Forever

NELL—which is short for Never Ending Language Learner—is an “intelligent computer” created by the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that's actually being taught to learn. According to a recent story on TechEye.net, NELL is “reading the Internet and learning from it in much the same way that humans learn language and acquire knowledge.”

So, how is NELL doing? So far, she has about a “C” average, having learned more than “440,000 separate things with an accuracy of 74 per cent.”

Nevertheless, while NELL is “getting brainier every day,” it has trouble telling the difference between facts and beliefs. The article suggests that this makes NELL more of a “rumour mill than a trusted source.”

To further complicate matters, NELL can’t unlearn anything or make a change in the way it thinks: “NELL’s human handlers had to tell NELL that Klingon is not an ethnic group, despite the fact that many earthlings think it is.” That’s a problem for some people all of us know.

Smartphones Give Voice to Domestic Violence Victims

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has teamed up with the Enterprise Mobility Foundation (EMF) and NextFone to allow companies to safely recycle mobile phones and help victims of domestic violence, according to a recent release.

The year-long partnership allows companies to send old mobile phones and smartphones to NextFone free of charge. NextFone will remove proprietary data from them and donate the current market value of phones to support the hotline’s services. Over the past 15 years, the hotline has answered nearly 2.5 million calls from women, men, children and families in crisis.

The release states that this effort will enable the hotline to increase its efforts to combat domestic violence across the country. To join the campaign, go to www.smartphonesforcharity.org and donate your firm’s old smartphones to support the hotline.

Cyborg Rat Infestation?

Kevin Warwick, a cybernetics researcher at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, “has been working on creating neural networks that can control machines,” according to a recent story on Singularityhub.com. “[Warwick] and his team have taken the brain cells from rats, cultured them, and used them as the guidance control circuit for simple wheeled robots.”

The researchers have developed a way for a tiny, wheeled robot to be controlled by the neurons from a rat’s brain—which, believe it or not, is kept in a bell jar. The claim is that this is “the first robot in the world to be controlled entirely by living tissue.”

In other words, this is an animal cyborg. As Warwick has pointed out, these cyborgs are going to become more advanced—probably sooner rather than later: “Eventually, we’ll have a cultured system that is roughly the size of the simplest of mammalian brains.” And that’s the point at which the robot will be able to do more than simply stop itself from rolling into a wall. Spooky, eh?



 
 
 
 
Tim Moran is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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