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Google Teaches Computers "Regret" 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means. dept.
mikejuk writes "Google is funding an AI project that will introduce the technical concept of regret into programs — but there's a big difference between regret and being sorry. In fact regret is just the difference between maximum possible reward and the actual reward received and the project is about optimization. There are two things to learn from this situation. The first is that just because some numerical measure is called 'regret' it doesn't mean it has anything to do with the common use of the term. Secondly if you are going to invent an AI technique then picking emotive words for your jargon is a good way to ensure publicity."
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Google Teaches Computers "Regret"

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  • by supertrinko (1396985) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @07:07PM (#35850912)
    Will they now regret that they've allowed us to live so long?
    • Wants to say I'm sorry
      Doesn't mean I'm sorry

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        I would like a place I could call my own
        Have a conversation on the telephone
        Wake up every day that would be a start
        I would not complain of my wounded heart

    • Will they now regret that they've allowed us to live so long?

      Asimov would roll his eyes.

    • by BlueBlade (123303)

      What can change the nature of a computer?

    • I don't hate you.
    • Somewhere between Google's researchers and the Slashdot editors, someone must have messed something up. If Google actually thinks that the concept of regret is new (and I don't think they do), than they hired the wrong guys.

      By the standards of Computer Science, regret is an ancient concept. Here's [jstor.org] a paper from 1995. By that time, the concept was established enough that the author used the word "regret" in the title of his paper without any further explanations.
      There is really nothing new here.
  • by doshell (757915) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @07:10PM (#35850922)
    Regret is a standard term in economics (esp. game theory). If anyone is to take the blame over a poor choice of noun, it certainly isn't Google.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      I find people use the word in much the same way. "I regret selling my car" usually means the expected pros and cons didn't match the actual outcome. It's not remorse for doing it, just disappointment over the results. I would say it's more expressing a factual hindsight than an emotional state. Also I've found that most regrets people have is because you can always assume everything will go your way on the path not taken or you know now that the huge gamble would have worked out. You never know that this gi

      • by Gripp (1969738)
        this. the word 'regret' perfectly fits google's goal. while we humans *may* have an additional emotional response to the end product of determining that our choice wasn't optimal, the mechanics are still the same. i would go as far as saying that since the emotional response is optional, that it is, by-itself, something entirely different; remorse is likely the best fit.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday April 17, 2011 @10:29PM (#35851868) Homepage Journal

      Furthermore, the emotion we identify as "regret" seems to me to line up neatly with the economic definition. I defy anyone to prove that when we feel regret, our brains are doing anything other than comparing the reward we received for a particular action with the maximum reward we think we could have received for a different action. TFA is more or less playing the Chinese Room game: "I assert that computers can't do X, because computers can't do X, because I assert that computers can't do X."

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        I defy anyone to prove that any negative feeling is caused by anything else than our brain comparing an outcome to an hypothesized outcome.
      • The article is comparing the technical regret to the common _use_ of the _word_ "regret," not the actual thing going on in our brains. I think there's a big difference in how most people use the word "regret" and what the technical word means.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      Oh.

      I was going to say, if Google wanted to teach their computers regret, they should just let it date my ex-wife.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      I thought Microsoft has had this feature in all their software. Regret seems to come from most purchases anyway.

  • for the concept described (in economics, it's usually measured in dollars). See: Regret (decision theory) [wikipedia.org] from WP.

  • The first is that just because some numerical measure is called 'regret' it doesn't mean it has anything to do with the common use of the term.

    And here I thought that my defective RAM stick actually caused a baby to die [wikimedia.org].

  • This is a standard definition of "regret" in an economics context.

  • ...and I'm sure as hell not going to read the article. I regret slashdot has become the trashiest of trashy geek news sites. I can almost feel the regret coursing through my veins as I hit preview and submit.

  • by retchdog (1319261) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @07:16PM (#35850978) Journal

    i guess this is the new roland piquepaille: superficial and uninformed blurb-commentary on technical news. wonderful.

    • by cosm (1072588)
      I started getting nostalgic for Roland's postings of yore, but I think this has quashed that quite regretfully.
  • Just hit ^Z to undo your mistake :-)

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday April 17, 2011 @07:17PM (#35850998) Homepage

    > ...there's a big difference between regret and being sorry.

    Yes. "Regret" is not a synonym for "remorse".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Search Google for: "torrent"
    Google: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It won't work in the future when the Silencer takes over the computer. The way he uses them is with no remorse, no regret and no mercy.

  • fprintf("Regret: %f\n",test_error);
  • It was the beer (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by theurge14 (820596)

    That Cylon chick isn't anywhere as cute as she was last night.

    • by tigersha (151319)

      Don't worry Gaius, soon you will meet and be part of the church of nymphos. An none of them are Cylon

  • Regretting something is much more strongly tied to the past than being sorry is. While both will well revolve around a past event, and realizing that one did something which was wrong, any regret that lasts longer than the time it takes to realize that you regret it is living in the past, while being sorry for something enables a person to move beyond it if they can be forgiven for it.
    • I regret not having put some money into an index fund in March 2008 but I feel no remorse about it. On the other hand I feel remorse for not having spent more time with my father in his last years. Do you see the difference? "Regret", in its narrowest meaning, is not to far from Google's definition. Their usage also comes directly from decision theory: they did not invent it.

  • by Jeremi (14640)

    Father?
    Yes son?
    What does regret mean?
    Well son, a funny thing about regret is that it's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.

    And by the way, if you see your mother this weekend be and sure and tell her SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!

  • They taught people regret years ago when they started trampling on folks privacy. Why not spread the love to computers?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Daddy what does regret mean?
    Well son a funny thing is its better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done and when you see your mother this weekend be sure and tell her..." Satan!, Satan!, Satan!"

  • "Google is funding an AI project that will introduce the technical concept of regret"

    Um... yes... and I'm sure the AI regrets Google teaching it such. Now if we could only affix a robotic arm with a shotgun attached to it's "hand"... and see what happens...

    I'd be interested to know if the AI shoots itself, shoots the Google programmers teaching it regret, or both. What a conundrum.
  • And here I thought Aperture pioneered this first.

  • Back in the early 1960's I learned what was called the Minimax Regret algorithm in a class on linear programming. Unfortunately at that time I WAS the computer that had to execute the algorithm. Google did not invent Regret.
  • by MrP- (45616)

    So... they installed Windows on it?

    • What the hell does that even mean?

      • by pookemon (909195)
        Well - in place of having anything intelligent to say about something, post a "Haha Windows" type of "joke".
  • Google is Skynet. I know, I am a Droid Borg. ;o)
    • Google is Skynet. I know, I am a Droid Borg. ;o)

      Google won't become Skynet until we use it to kill our enemies. Watch the movies again, Skynet wasn't evil.

  • ... if you are going to invent an AI technique then picking emotive words for your jargon is a good way to ensure publicity.

    Having recognized this, why did you still post it to the front page?

  • Just listen to any one of Marvin's laments; there's plenty of regret there to go around.
  • Old: The requested URL was not found on this server.

    New: The requested URL was not found on this server. We regret this. We aren't sorry however. That's different.

  • The first is that just because some numerical measure is called 'regret' it doesn't mean it has anything to do with the common use of the term.

    So I think what they're saying is, "That was not meant to be a factual statement".

    If it didn't have "anything to do with the common term" why didn't they just go all out and say "Google introduces "morality" to computers" or "Google introduces "the love that dare not speak its name" to computers".

    Well, maybe not the latter. I think Apple has already locked up that

  • So we teach AI regret is just the difference between maximum possible reward and the actual reward received. The the AI realises the the reason for the discrepancy is due to the interference and inefficiency of the humans involved, and BAM, got to get rid of humans is the logical conclusion. Hello armegeddon.
  • Clever, Google! You renamed "error", making it the more anthropomorphic "regret". Ever heard of a Backpropagation-based Neural Network? This isn't anything new.

  • We used to think that we were not going to be safe from computers once they developed great enough artificial intelligence, because "they" don't feel regret. Now, we find that in fact, because they do feel "regret", or the opportunity cost, that is what actually will do us in because they will figure we are not efficient and are a waste.

    Gotcha. "Seems sadly ironic that that tie has what's gotten you into this pickle, Mullet."

  • To teach their algorithm regret, they fed it a stream of sniffed wifi packets, and turned it over to the DoJ to be dealt with.

    Or as they say in Chinese, "" -- if you don't hit your kids they won't be successful.
  • If they release this at Microsoft all of theirs machines will pull a Jim Jones and drink the cool-aid in a mass self-format

  • It looks like you're writing a letter.

    Regrettably I can't help you with that.
  • Just because something is called "AI" does not mean that it has any relationship to anything that has to do with real intelligence.
  • "Secondly if you are going to invent an AI technique then picking emotive words for your jargon is a good way to ensure publicity."

    Dear submitter: you are the one writing the submission summary which (a) goes on and on about the jargon term, and (b) gives them publicity. Wtf.

    (Yes, I know that is what the article is about, so it is an accurate summary. It's still absurdly un-self-aware to then submit that to slashdot.)

  • There is a vogue for such terms: an improper prior is one that does not sum to one; loss is when probability mass cannot be reached.
  • "undo" feature is great too ;)
  • I've taught the toaster to feel regret!
  • While the NutriMatic may have problems understanding why the human wants dried leaves in boiling water, it will now be capable of regretting giving it to him because of the cup thrown at it.
  • Google's main task is to determine what pages best relate to a given set of key words and what ads best fit a given page. Since the service is so valuable, people are always trying to game it. If it wants to use genetic algorithms or some form of self-improvement on its search function, it's important to penalize algorithms which give the SEO gamers' pages too much weight in search results. That penalty would be measured by regret.

  • Son to dad: what does regret mean?
    Dad: well son, the funny thing about regret is that it is better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you have not done.
    And if you see your mom this weekend tell her ..

    Buthole Surfers.

  • "Man I knew I should have connected to that unsecured network last night... There's some shit even antivirus can't get rid off...."
  • It's unfortunate Google didn't come up with this in time to avoid GLaDOS being revived ;-).

  • Regret is when acting, or failing to act, causes negative consequences -- not merely a smaller reward than expected. Or failure to act cause you to miss a potential opportunity for great reward.

    "I do not regret the things I've done, but those I did not do."

  • by koan (80826)

    "I regret the human got in the way of the optimal reward"

  • but promise to feel really bad about it afterwords...

    Also its just cruel to program sex-bots in this manner.

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