Even slacking isn’t off limits in the AI revolution

This week saw yet another world-first for artificial intelligence.

IntelligentX, a London-based brewing company, has started selling beers that improve themselves using machine learning.

Once customers have tried the company’s beers, they can give feedback to an artificial intelligence agent running on Facebook’s Messenger platform. The agent – nicknamed ABI (Automatic Brewing Intelligence) – then structures the data and sends it to human brewers, who change that beer’s recipe to suit customers’ tastes.

ABI asks customers a series of questions to determine what they did and didn’t like about the beer. These questions might be multiple choice, yes or no questions, or ask for marks out of ten. The AI then uses a technique known as reinforcement learning to develop better questions, eventually leading to more useful feedback.

This feedback is then analysed, allowing brewers to adapt their beer to better suit drinkers’ tastes. Over the past year, IntelligentX’s beers have evolved eleven times in response to customer feedback.

“AI is about making decisions”, says IntelligentX co-founder Dr. Rob McInerney. “And when you’re brewing beer, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made.”

“We take all the choices, the ingredients, the methods, and put that in a data structure the AI understands. We’re putting expert human brewers and all our customers in the same room. This leads to creativity structure by data that allow us to evolve our beer generation after generation.”

And it’s not just beer…

The team behind computer game No Man’s Sky has turned to algorithms to provide music for the enormous virtual universe in which the game takes place. Hello Games has recruited Sheffield-based band 65daysofstatic to provide a number of recordings for the game’s soundtrack; an algorithm will combine these recordings as players proceed through the game, producing a vast number of different songs from a relatively small number of recorded tracks.

No Man’s Sky takes place in the largest virtual universe ever programmed: players have access to more than 18 quintillion (18,000,000,000,000,000,000) planets. Much like the game’s soundtrack, these planets are built by algorithm. An artificial intelligence combines and recombines certain characteristics to create an enormous number of possible worlds – far more than a team of programmers would ever be able to manage.

Even exploring all the planets in No Man’s Sky for just one second each would take more than five billion years. For reference, our sun is expected to die after 4.6 billion years.

The virtual universe is so big that Hello Games have had to send bots to explore it. It’s like a modern twist on the omnipotence paradox. Can God create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it?

Can an artificial intelligence make a world so big that only it can explore itself?

Now we know it can.

Category: Artificial intelligence

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