Geoffrey Hinton: The Man Google Hired to Make AI a Reality

Geoff Hinton, the AI guru who now works for Google. Photo: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Geoff Hinton, the AI guru who now works for Google. Photo: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Daniela Hernandez  writes:  Geoffrey Hinton was in high school when a friend convinced him that the brain worked like a hologram.

To create one of those 3-D holographic images, you record how countless beams of light bounce off an object and then you store these little bits of information across a vast database. While still in high school, back in 1960s Britain, Hinton was fascinated by the idea that the brain stores memories in much the same way. Rather than keeping them in a single location, it spreads them across its enormous network of neurons.

‘I get very excited when we discover a way of making neural networks better — and when that’s closely related to how the brain works.’

This may seem like a small revelation, but it was a key moment for Hinton — “I got very excited about that idea,” he remembers. “That was the first time I got really into how the brain might work” — and it would have enormous consequences. Inspired by that high school conversation, Hinton went on to explore neural networks at Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and by the early ’80s, he helped launch a wildly ambitious crusade to mimic the brain using computer hardware and software, to create a purer form of artificial intelligence we now call “deep learning.”

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Retail Robot Wars: Google Robots May Pose Challenge to Amazon drones

Meka's M1 robot is one of the systems that has been acquired by Google

Meka’s M1 robot is one of the systems that has been acquired by Google

Leo Kelion reports:  Google has revealed it has taken over seven robotics companies in the past half a year and has begun hiring staff to develop its own product.

A spokesman confirmed the effort was being headed up by Andy Rubin, who was previously in charge of the Android operating system.

The spokesman was unwilling to discuss what kind of robot was being developed.

But the New York Times reports that at this stage Google does not plan to sell the resulting product to consumers.

SchaftGoogle has hired a team of Japanese engineers who make humanoid robots

Instead, the newspaper suggests, Google’s robots could be paired with its self-driving car research to help automate the delivery of goods to people’s doors.

It notes the company has recently begun a same-day grocery delivery service in San Francisco and San Jose, called Google Shopping Express.

That would pitch the initiative against Amazon’s Prime Air Project, which envisages using drones to transport goods to its customers by air.

“Any description of what Andy and his team might actually create are speculations of the author and the people he interviewed,” said Google of the NYT article. Read the rest of this entry »


The idea of immortality lives on in messages from beyond the grave and near-death experiences. What’s the evidence?

A seance in Paris, circa 1900. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty

A seance in Paris, circa 1900. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty

Jesse Bering writes:  She was nothing like the sweet old lady in Poltergeist, a film that gave me, an overly imaginative child growing up in the 1980s, my most memorable brush with the spirit world. In fact, Caroline seemed so down-to-earth that I wondered if she truly believed this stuff. Maybe she just enjoyed pulling people’s legs and catching the money falling out of their pockets.

‘Well, don’t force it,’ I told her. ‘I mean, if he’s not here, he’s not here, right?’

‘Ian’s definitely here,’ she snapped. ‘I feel like he’s outside, not in the house. It’s just, either he doesn’t want to do this, or something won’t let him.’

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