The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Prototype of the Day #2036

leave a comment »

Prototype of the Day #2036

I’ve been taking a machine learning course for the past few weeks. It’s just an online class, something I can work on at a leisurely pace, but it’s good to have something pushing me to keep learning.

This week’s assignment had me building a neural network – an algorithm to allow computers to learn and develop hypotheses about data, designed in a simplified fashion after how actual neurons connect and process information. This is how technologies like Google’s clever search suggestions and self-driving cars come from – the guided crunching of data, phenomena reduced to matrices, ground down and sifted until patterns emerge from the chaos. I’ve gotten the impression, somehow, that given enough time and information, a good neural network could work out any problem, be it structural engineering or musical composition. We’ll see, in time, if real artificial intelligence comes of this someday.

My own neural network here was asked to learn to understand handwritten numbers. From a sample of 5000 digits, it learned to read with an accuracy of about 95%; with the hundreds of thousands of samples available, it might become even better.

These pixelated swirls are a representation of the models the neural network keeps in mind when it hypothesizes what certain numbers looks like. Each swirl is meant to represent some different archetype of handwriting, a certain stroke or other pattern it can search for when it reads. This is still a bit of a black box to me, but I’m gradually getting better at understanding it myself – building my own mental models, I suppose.

Devising these artificial neural networks might give us some idea about what the brain is actually doing when it perceives something. Peering into brain activity via MRI or EEG lets us learn a few things, but the details of our thoughts remain a mystery; perhaps we might learn more about the brain by trying to reinvent it.

the black cap brotherhood

Written by Umbrella Man

April 20, 2014 at 2:01 am

Posted in pixels, science and math

Tagged with

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: