Deepmind – Computers that learn

Thoughts By 3 years ago

Imagine a world where your mobile phone already knows what you need, before you pull it out of your pocket. Google Now is the first mainstream attempt at providing users with information based simply on their behaviour, time and place without any input. Recently Google acquired a UK based company called Deepmind, which for the last few years has been developing some of the most advanced artificial intelligence systems. This enables a computer system to think for itself.

The human brain is made up of a complex network of neurones. The basis of Deepmind is a computerised neural network, which captures information and relates it to other pieces of data by weighting much like the brain. Over time this network becomes smarter. Deepmind have developed an extremely advanced system called a Neural Turing Machine.

Here is the amazing part. A few months back I watched the Deepmind system learn how to play an old Atari game to play called Boxing. It had no instruction other than the information displayed on screen and access to controls. Deepmind must then figure out that the game has controls, hitting a control moves a character, punches get points and points win the game. In the first round the opponent wins, the Deepmind controlled character doesn’t even move. 10 rounds in Deepmind begins to move around and learns the controls. 100 rounds in, Deepmind cannot be beaten. It discovers and takes advantage of a weakness in the game by which the opponent is cornered and cannot move.


This video ( shows Deepmind playing a range of games, again with no instruction. In all situations it becomes unbeatable. The computer goes well beyond what a human can achieve in score.

So why would Google be interested in this? Put simply when Google is seeking to develop self driving cars that can learn how to drive, then become such good drivers they can’t crash. Or  a search engine that learns so much about your human behaviour, you never need to search again, the information is already there.

That is the future of how we will interact with computers, tablets, smartphones and wearables. No interaction at all.