It’s almost like something from a Sci-Fi thriller. A pair of artificial intelligence robots built by Facebook reportedly invented their own language and have now been shut down.
CBS Los Angeles reports that a “chatbot” was built earlier this year by a team at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research. The intent of the “chatbot” was to observe and imitate human trading and bartering practices and to learn how to negotiate.
What researchers noticed was that two of the bots, which they called Alice and Bob, when paired together started to speak in their own form of communication against each other to trade.
Researchers said their conversation “led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating.”
The researchers gave the AI tasks of trading things such as hats, balls and books . The robots would determine the value of each object and begin to barter for them with each other.
Facebook’s researchers didn’t provide any incentive for them to trade in English, so the programs began to create their own terms for making deals with each other.
Facebook researcher Dhruv Batra told FastCo, “There was no reward to sticking to English language.” He went on to say, “Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves. Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”
According to researchers at Facebook, when the bots had communication with humans, most people were unaware that instead of speaking to an actual person, they were speaking to an AI instead.
Facebook said after they shut down the bots communication that the Artificial Intelligence project made important progress toward “creating chatbots that can reason, converse, and negotiate, all key steps in building a personalized digital assistant.”
According to the researchers, it is impossible for the AI language to be understood by humans and translated into English.
“It’s important to remember, there aren’t bilingual speakers of AI and human languages,” Batra said.
Last year the folks at Microsoft had to shut down their newest AI chatbot, “Tay,” after it began to generate a few racist and insensitive tweets.