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07/10/2018 / By Edsel Cook
It is worrisome enough that humans are programming artificial intelligence (AI) systems that might one day be able to think for themselves. Now, an article in Alpha Galileo states that U.K. researchers want to give the AI the ability to design, build, and reprogram itself in order to exceed the performance of human-designed systems.
The research project will more or less turn over the job of software development to the computers. AI will have the ability to put together their own algorithms by themselves so that they can do their jobs with maximum efficiency.
Giving the job of human software developers and programmers to the AI will supposedly save on operational costs and reduce the amount of energy used by a system.
Lancaster University (Lancaster) researchers are preparing a toolkit that contains numerous small blocks of computer code. An AI will be able to pick the appropriate blocks from this toolkit and arrange them in the most efficient way possible.
Furthermore, the AI will be given the capability of writing new code blocks that can deal with new developments. This will let them find a better way to do their job without the need for a human programmer. (Related: Army researchers develop A.I. tech that helps U.S. soldiers learn 13x faster than conventional methods.)
The Lancaster researchers are focusing on the automated writing and arrangement of software. They will start with the data center, which handles numerous different requests.
They are looking at how various interlinked self-assembling computer programs can work together even though each program is being run on an independent machine in a separate location. When they work together, the programs can handle requests faster, use less computational power and electricity, and adapt to any changes that take place in popular content and services.
“By fully automating the writing of the source code of each little block of behavior, the software continually creates its own new building blocks for systems without humans having to write them,” said Dr. Barry Porter, the lead researcher of the Lancaster project. “This unleashes systems from their programming, allowing them to continually produce more novel and innovative solutions to achieve their objectives.”
If the project is successful, it could change the role of the human computer programmer – or even delete the job entirely. Dr. Porter said human computer programmers will no longer be required to write and inspect every single line of code in a software program.
Instead, they will oversee the AI as it performs the laborious job of programming. Humans will provide creative guidance for the more efficient but much less creative computer.
Dr. Porter likened the self-programming AI to a self-driving car. Programmers and end-users will pick a target for the machine, which decides on the best route to take to the destination.
Furthermore, the AI will be able to learn the personal preferences of its human user over time. An experienced software could redesign itself so that it can deliver maximum performance on behalf of its user.
Boosting the efficiency of data centers is but the first step for the project. It will lead to the creation of intelligent software that can write and re-write its own code. The AI will be able to learn from experience and change its software without human prompting.
The day may come when a human will only need to tell the computer or smartphone about a job that needs to be done. The machine itself will find a way to fulfill the task.
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