A difficulty with DoubleQuotes

[ by Charles Cameron — from artificial intelligence to the Council of Nicea in one easy blog post ]


It seems fairly easy for a human to tell likes from dislikes, but for a computer to tell likes from unlikes appears to be a far trickier business. Consider the following DoubleQuote in the Wild, which I found in David Berreby‘s Nautilus piece, Artificial Intelligence is Already Weirdly Inhuman:

adversarial example dog ostrich 601

You might think these two images are the same. Or that they’re a little different, as the images from your left and right eyes always are, but that if you squint at them just right they will merge into a single image with a vivid sense of depth, like a movie seen with 3-D glasses. You mivght even think the differences between them are a matter of steganography, encoding some IS battle plan under cover of a diggie pic.

But you are unlikely, I suggest, to think the image on the left is of a dog, while that on the right is of an ostrich. Which is what “artificial intelligence”, in the form of a neural net, figured out.


And how different are they “in fact”?

The middle image here shows the amount of variation in pixels between the two outer images:

negative2 cropped

The image on the right — the one the neural net iodentified as an ostrich — is an example of what the researchers, Christian Szegedy, Wojciech Zaremba, Ilya Sutskever, Joan Bruna, Dumitru Erhan, Ian Goodfellow and Rob Fergus, call an “adversarial example”.


It’s not my intent to dismiss neural nets by any means: I have one myself.

What interests me, though, as someone preoccupied with analogy and metaphor — with likeness and unlikeness — is the deep question of what likeness and unlikeness mean.

That question lies at the heart of my DoubleQuotes and HipBone Games.

Back in my Oxford days, my tutor in Dogmatic Theology had me thinking about the difference between the two words Homoousion and Homoiousion, homoousion meaning of the same essence, and homoiousion of similar essence. The distinction was important in Patristic theology, the questionn being whether the Son and Holy Spirit were of the same essence as the Father (one God in three Persons) or of similar essence (three Persons in one God).

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