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Artificial intelligence

A detailed virtual house will help robots train to become your butler

February 16, 2018

A new digital training ground that replicates an average home lets AI learn how to do simple chores like slicing apples, making beds, or carrying drinks in a low-stakes environment.

Background: We all want a robot to run around our home and fetch us a beer. But teaching them to do it in the real world is expensive, because they’re still clumsy and make tons of mistakes.

Virtual beer fetching: So researchers have turned to training AI in virtual settings. Typically those spaces are video games like Doom or Grand Theft Auto. But IEEE Spectrum reports a new training ground, called AI2-THOR, lets AI interact with objects like refrigerators and furniture in something like the real world.

Why it matters: Think of all the unbroken glassware. Beyond saving time and money, AI2-THOR could teach AIs skills that are genuinely useful. Exploring the relatively complex, messy settings that humans inhabit could let AI learn more as we do, too.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

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Large language models are trained on troves of personal data hoovered from the internet. So I wanted to know: What does it have on me?

An AI that can design new proteins could help unlock new cures and materials 

The machine-learning tool could help researchers discover entirely new proteins not yet known to science.

DeepMind’s new chatbot uses Google searches plus humans to give better answers

The lab trained a chatbot to learn from human feedback and search the internet for information to support its claims.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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