AI for proposing math conjectures, building chatbots of the deceased, and more!

Last Week in AI #102

Mini Briefs

AI maths whiz creates tough new problems for humans to solve

Researchers have developed an algoroithm that automatically proposes conjectures regarding how certain important mathmatical constants can be computed. Named after the famous Indian mathematician, the Ramanujan machine specifically proposes continued fractions, "infinite sequences of fractions nested in each other's denominators." Some of the proposed conjectures have latter been proven by researchers, showing the system can "make contributions to really hard problems." However, given the limited scope and capabilities of the algorithm, "calling this the ramanujan machine is over the top." Looking toward the future of algorithms in math, on mathematician comments:

Until I can detect a well-developed ‘sense of mathematical taste’ in AI, I expect its role to be that of an important auxiliary tool, not that of independent discoverer.

AI chat bots can bring you back from the dead, sort of

Microsoft recently submitted a patent about an AI chat bot system that is trained to replicate the communication styles of a specific person, dead or alive. More realistic virtual avatars are possible now due to the latest developments in language modeling, deep fakes, and voice synthesis. However, such a system would raise numerous ethical concerns, from privacy and identity-theft to interrupting people's grief process. In addition, of course such a chat bot, trained on text messages and social media data, is at best a crude approximation to how the actual person would respond, and it would say things that the person would have never said.

Big tech companies often submit "defensive" patents that they have no intention of implementing but would prevent lawsuits from patent trolls. This patent may be one of those, as Microsoft's general manager of AI saying "there's no plan for this," and calling the patent "disturbing." However, there's not much stopping these firms from pursuing such products, and Microsoft is not the only company who has a patent relevant to building conversational AI's in the style of a specific person.

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