Self-Taught AI Defeats Programmed AI: What Higher Thinking Means

Hint: Highest thinking doesn’t mean being a parrot. Just the opposite. SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THINKING means not just mastering AI, but ESCHEWING ANY THINKING WHICH DEPENDS ONLY UPON A FEW EXPLICIT RULES: Artificial Intelligence will help define the highest forms of thinking, and push them higher than ever before. Thus spoke Brainythustra.

Earlier this year the AlphaGo artificial intelligence program ended humanity’s 2,500 years of supremacy at the board game Go. Not content with its 3–0 victory over the world’s top player, AlphaGo creator DeepMind Technologies unveiled on 10/18/2017 its enhanced version—AlphaGo Zero—which soundly thumped its predecessor program in an AI face-off, winning all 100 games played. Thanks to creativity (I will allege, and there is a wisdom therein for us all).

So here we have Artificial Intelligence, self teaching now, spending 40 days playing against itself, and defeating anything programmed by humans. A new program, teaching itself, AlphaGo Zero, needed just three days to invent advanced strategies as yet undiscovered by human players in the multi-millennia history of the game of Go! An essential ingredient towards our termination, lest we get much smarter: to stay ahead of the game, we have to do better than Alpha Go Zero versus Alpha Go Master.

AlphaGo had been taught to play the game of Go by using two different methods. In the first, called supervised learning, researchers fed the program 100,000 top Go games and taught it to imitate that. In the second, called reinforcement learning, researchers had the program play against itself and learn from the results. AlphaGo Zero skipped supervised learning. The AI learned, by itself., without human data, guidance or domain knowledge beyond game rules. After three days, and 4.9 million training games against itself, AlphaGo Zero routed AlphaGo.

The Catholic ex-seminarian, the real Nazi philosopher Heidegger, extra conjugal lover of the (secular Jew) Hannah Arendt, explained that he struggled to define what he was doing, and who he was. Later he elected to call himself a “thinker”, rather than simply a “philosopher”. Heidegger may have been too optimistic in his own case, but the fact is, “wisdom” is not just what “thinking” produces, but what superior thinking produces. Yes, superior, like in above. A superior race of thinking, so to speak, what Heidegger aspired to.

Philosophy is good, thinking is better.

All you see here is programmable, and that means it’s nonlinear programming (as it acts upon itself. Moreover, the Quantum looms in the fine details of the machinery, introducing an unpredictable, nonlinear, nonlocal ingredient as Deus Ex Machina

Thinking is essentially a phenomenon of abstraction revealing the mysterious hierarchies of cause and effect ruling the universe.

Google purchased the company “DeepMind” and is now is studying “Deep Learning”. I must admit it seems to be doing enough of an excellent job at it, to feed the philosophy of thinking and creativity (by supporting experimentally for all to see, strategies of creativity I long believed in).

How did AlphaGo Zero become so dominant? Learning. Unlike the original AlphaGo, which DeepMind trained with human knowledge and supervision, the new system’s algorithm taught itself to play well. Self-taught. The system was not taught to imitate what humans had previously done. That’s the key.

Computer programs, so far, recognize faces, select or correct trajectories, make purchasing recommendations, parallel park cars from “learning algorithms,” written by humans who feed massive amounts of data into an artificial neural networks. 

This is not new: the deliberate mimicking of neural networks by computer systems goes all the way back to the 1940s. This is called machine learning. In AlphaGo’s case it involved analyzing millions of moves made by human go experts and playing many, many games against itself to reinforce that learning. AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie—then the world’s top human go player—It also beat other grand masters such as Lee Sedol, with the aid of multiple neural networks requiring 48 Tensor Processing Units (TPUs)—specialized microchips for neural network training.

AlphaGo Zero’s training involved only four TPUs and a single neural network that knew nothing much about Go, besides the basic rules. The AI learned without supervision—it simply played against itself, and soon was able to anticipate itself and how moves would affect a game’s outcome (as we do in dreaming).

“This technique is more powerful than previous versions of AlphaGo because it is no longer constrained by the limits of human knowledge,” opined DeepMind co-founders Demis Hassabis and David Silver. “If similar techniques can be applied to other structured problems such as protein folding, reducing energy consumption or searching for revolutionary new materials, the resulting breakthroughs have the potential to positively impact society,” their blog and their Nature article, “Mastering the game of Go without human knowledge”, say, insisting that “a long-standing goal of artificial intelligence is an algorithm that learns, tabula rasa, superhuman proficiency in challenging domains”.

AlphaGo Zero devised unconventional strategies. Go is typically played using “stones” colored either black or white on a board with a 19 by 19 grid. Each player places stones with the objective of surrounding an opponent’s. AlphaGo Zero discovered, played and ultimately learned to prefer, series of new joseki [corner sequence] previously unknown. Go games typically start with plays in the grid’s corners, to gain a better overall position on the board. Move 37 in the second game against Lee Sedol showed the creativity of AlphaGo and the potential of AI is widely recognized as “rare and intriguing”by professional Go players.

Here we touch something that has been central to my thinking, ever since I seriously think about thinking: topmost human thinking is not about what is measured easily. Topmost human thinking is not about what is programmed easily, and ruled easily. This is what the triumphs of AI show us.

That’s why I have secretly scoffed QI (however flatteringly towering it got my mandatory experience through QI once showed me most of it is BS, as i spent time meta-analyzing the test itself). I also look down on all brainy games, such as chess, because, precisely, they are not brainy enough. Same objections to most.fiction literature. I like to play chess, just as I like tennis, but it’s no proof of intelligence, or even of a correctly functioning brain. The same objection can be ruled out, against (much, not most) mathematics itself. If you want full brains, you have to get smarter.   

DeepMind claims “a very impressive technical result; and both their ability to do it—and their ability to train the system in 40 days, on four TPUs—is remarkable,” says Oren Etzioni, chief executive officer of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) (founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2014). “While many have used [reinforcement learning] before, the technical aspects of the work are novel.”

However Etzioni says “I think it would be a mistake to believe that we’ve learned something general about thinking and about learning for general intelligence,” he adds. “This approach won’t work in more ill-structured problems like natural-language understanding or robotics, where the state space is more complex and there isn’t a clear objective function.”

Unsupervised training is the key to ultimately creating AI that can think for itself, Etzioni says, but “more research is needed outside of the confines of board games and predefined objective functions” before computers can really begin to think outside the box.

Of course, for thinking out of the box, we need something that is adverse to boxes, and is actually always out of anything box we try to stuff it in.

And the answer is…

The Quantum.

Quantum computers are the key to maximally innovative intelligence. Precisely because the Quantum recognizes no bounds. Just as real intelligence. And real consciousness. Verily, that’s no accident, but consequence.

In conclusion, let me reinforce what we learned here experimentally, because it has great philosophical import: maximal human creativity requires, first, tabula rasa. Hence all human mental activities not resting on tabula rasa should be viewed as belonging to a lower, more menial sort. This is real progress in thinking about thinking, and how to make it better…

Patrice Ayme’


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7 Responses to “Self-Taught AI Defeats Programmed AI: What Higher Thinking Means”

  1. benign Says:

    Hi Patrice,

    Sarah Westall interviewed some consciousness researchers recently who maintain that memory and consciousness are not maintained in the physical brain but in “the [quantum] field.” See “The Field” by Lynn McTaggart for a nice intro. So the suggestion that the human brain is a quantum computer is probably correct. The idea that one’s consciousness and memories can ever be “uploaded” into a “computer” is nonsense. William Tiller has elaborated a theory of consciousness distributed into everything, from rocks to geniuses, which is consistent with the Eastern idea that Consciousness is the base reality from which everything is spun into existence.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I do agree that the upload idea is nonsense, and I am not supporting it. What I have argued is the Quantum Computer will give rise to consciousness.

      Caveat: there is Quantum Computing and Quantum Simulation, aka annealing… Moreover thinking brains are Quantum Computers within Quantum Computers. To believe there would be just one Quantum Field at work would contradict brain physiology and how the Quantum works. Many, many fields, entangled within, a bit fractal like, is more like it. Quantum fractals, nestled within… From my point of view the root of intelligence or more exactly consciousness, is the Quantum Field. However the Quantum Field, in standard QFT is just a probabilistic device.

      From my point of view, the Quantum Field is real. My spouse (who has a PhD in biophysics) has discovered a simple illustration of the reality of the Quantum Field, using just two plates of glass and a credit card… Before slipping the latter, the glass clings, mightily. Slipping the card, it gets disjointed, effortlessly (static electricity explanations don’t work).

      OK, will look into the references you gave…

      • Benign Says:

        Speculating… If Non-Locality is Absolute, temporally and spatially, then Einstein’s vision of the 4-D block Universe is correct, or at least not entirely wrong…. 😉

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Einstein “block universe”? I used to read Einstein a lot, never saw that concept… Nonlocality is actually extremely relative. Looks like it’s the real architecture of space… and also, of time. My own speculation being a universal, absolute “Quantum INTERACTION”… That would turn physics on its head.

  2. Gmax Says:

    Confused here..couldn’t alpha go zero teach alpha go? In the end they would be the same

  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Replying to Quanta Magazine, January 21, 2018.]
    Semi old news, yet highly significant about how creative thinking is achieved, and even how all of culture is established, and what it misses:

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