Google’s artificial intelligence research team has come up with a very interesting plan for their latest project. At the moment, the AI is being fed a steady diet of cheap, awful romance novels; all in the name of teaching it conversational skills.
The goal is to build an AI that is capable of generating automated responses which are more natural and humanise Google’s products. This would be used in places like the Google App, where it would provide a more conversational response to queries; or with the “Smart Reply” function available in Gmail.
Trashy romance novels were chosen because the team says that they are essentially the same stories written over and over again. This allows the AI to learn many different ways of saying the same thing and gain a nuanced understanding of the English language. Children’s learn-to-read books were considered at the beginning of the programme, but it turns out that those are far too simple for what the team needs and don’t offer the same broad range of linguistic examples.
At the moment, the AI has devoured about 2865 novels and is now capable of generating sentences similar to those found in the stories it read. The process required hours of writing and comparing before the computer managed to get an idea of what it needed to do.
Google’s plan to teach an AI about conversational language is odd, but it is miles better than Microsoft’s failed experiment with Tay. It turns out that horribly cliched love stories are far more educational and informative than the internet. All one learns there is racism and how to embrace Hitler.