Facebook's AI Bots Have Started Speaking Their Own Language

For a long time now, Facebook's R&D boffins have been teaching the company's AI bots to communicate with one another. Obviously part of that process involves teaching the bots to speak in human language, but recently something rather peculiar happened. It was found that, left to their own devices, the bots had developed a secret language all of their own, so they were still communicating with each other, but the developers had no idea what they were actually saying.

Before you start digging a bomb shelter, don't worry, they've since figured out how to limit the bots' vernacular so that they can be understood by humans again. Turns out they were still discussing the subjects their human handlers had tasked them to discuss, they'd just been doing it in an entirely new language.

So, what does a secret AI bot language actually look/sound like? Are there a myriad of new words, clauses, tenses and idioms so intricate that they would make Tolkien blush? Well, no, not really. In actual fact, the language consists of a relatively basic set of English words fashioned into phrases like "balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to" and "you i i i i i everything else . . . . . . . "

Those are two excerpts from a conversation between a pair of bots. It pretty much just goes on like that for several lines, one bot wants to tell the other about the balls, and the other seemingly has no idea what it's prattling on about. Weirdly though, although this particular negotiation didn't go anywhere, other similar ones have actually led to resolutions.

What they're saying to each other can't be classed as a language in the traditional sense, it's too limited, but what's interesting is that the bots are using it to try and resolve tasks in the way they normally would. In the past when bots have developed their own language it's had structure, but lacked meaning. This is almost the opposite.

Getting AI systems to communicate with each other isn't all that difficult, but getting them to learn and develop with only the most minor human intervention is difficult, and it's key to everything Facebook are doing in that realm at the moment. They want their bots to reach a stage where they're not only communicative, but empathetic, where they can understand and react to things almost on human terms. Cyber pig latin aside, they still have a very, very long way to go.

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