Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Artificial Intelligence update: Robot solves Rubik's Cube

For those interested in the debate over whether and how AI will impact legal practice (including replacing the need for attorneys when it comes to the more routine tasks associated with practicing law), there's this article from today's New York Times reporting on a robotic hand that was trained to solve a Rubik's Cube.  Given that the AI programmers gave the robot the equivalent of 10,000 years to practice the task, query whether this is really a reflection of artificial learning or instead an example of the infinite monkey theorem.  On the other hand (no pun intended), the article points out the researchers did not program into the robot every possible hand or finger movement needed to manipulate the Rubik's Cube (which could have taken centuries) so in that sense, the robot did indeed engage in some bona fide learning to be able to successfully solve the puzzle.

If a Robotic Hand Solves a Rubik’s Cube, Does It Prove Something?

A five-fingered feat could show important progress in A.I. research. It is also a stunt.

 

Last week, on the third floor of a small building in San Francisco’s Mission District, a woman scrambled the tiles of a Rubik’s Cube and placed it in the palm of a robotic hand.

 

The hand began to move, gingerly spinning the tiles with its thumb and four long fingers. Each movement was small, slow and unsteady. But soon, the colors started to align. Four minutes later, with one more twist, it unscrambled the last few tiles, and a cheer went up from a long line of researchers watching nearby.

 

The researchers worked for a prominent artificial intelligence lab, OpenAI, and they had spent several months training their robotic hand for this task.

 

Though it could be dismissed as an attention-grabbing stunt, the feat was another step forward for robotics research. Many researchers believe it was an indication that they could train machines to perform far more complex tasks. That could lead to robots that can reliably sort through packages in a warehouse or to cars that can make decisions on their own.

 

Though it could be dismissed as an attention-grabbing stunt, the feat was another step forward for robotics research. Many researchers believe it was an indication that they could train machines to perform far more complex tasks. That could lead to robots that can reliably sort through packages in a warehouse or to cars that can make decisions on their own.

 

. . . . 

 

“This is an interesting and positive step forward, but it is really important not to exaggerate it,” said Ken Goldberg, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who explores similar techniques.

 

A robot that can solve a Rubik’s Cube is not new. Researchers previously designed machines specifically for the task — devices that look nothing like a hand — and they can solve the puzzle in less than a second. But building devices that work like a human hand is a painstaking process in which engineers spend months laying down rules that define each tiny movement.

 

The OpenAI project was an achievement of sorts because its researchers did not program each movement into their robotic hand. That might take decades, if not centuries, considering the complexity of a mechanical device with a thumb and four fingers. The lab’s researchers built a computer system that learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube largely on its own.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2019/10/artificial-intelligence-update-robot-solves-rubiks-cube-.html

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