Google’s DeepMind unveils self-teaching AI software, AlphaGo Zero
Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind has unveiled the latest version of its AlphaGo software, the program that was used to beat a number of Go gaming champions earlier in the year.
The new software named AlphaGo Zero was able to defeat the previous AlphaGo by 100 games to 0 after just three days of self-play training, later consistently outperforming the AlphaGo Master that had defeated the world’s best players after 40 days.
However, although the new AlphaGo Zero software outperforming its previous models showed progress, the key difference is that it did this entirely through reinforced learning, with it having had no prior knowledge about the game.
The system began as a neural network, then playing games against itself whilst combing the neural network with a powerful search algorithm, updating the network to predict moves and sequences.
The software is somewhat ground-breaking in the way of AI, as the technology is no longer constrained by human knowledge.
"By not using human data — by not using human expertise in any fashion — we've actually removed the constraints of human knowledge," said David Silver, AlphaGo Zero's lead programmer, at a press conference. "It's therefore able to create knowledge itself from first principles; from a blank slate. This enables it to be much more powerful than previous versions."
The result is that DeepMind is considerably closer to creating general purpose algorithms for AI, something that will allow machines to tackle some of the hardest problems in science, medicine and other.
With such evident progress, DeepMind is now lining up the technology for use in protein folding, the reduction of energy consumption and developing revolutionary materials.
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.