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Meet NELL, the Computer That Learns From the Net

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the nell-like-lolcat-pew-pew dept.

The Internet 272

bossanovalithium writes "Carnegie Mellon University has taught a computer how to read and learn from the internet. According to Dennis Baron at the Oxford University press blog, the computer is called NELL and it is reading the internet and learning from it in much the same way that humans learn language and acquire knowledge. Basically by soaking it all up and figuring it out. NELL is short for Never Ending Language Learner and apparently it is getting brainier every day."

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What no spelling? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868310)

Lears? Really?

Re:What no spelling? (2, Funny)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868344)

Well, that's better than a lot of others that "leer" from the net. ;-)

Re:What no spelling? (4, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868422)

Big Brother is watching you.

And masturbating. Ew.

Re:What no spelling? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868448)

Big Brother is watching you.

And so is his sister NELL ;-)

Re:What no spelling? (3, Funny)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868676)

Chicka pie, chicka bane.

Re:What no spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868846)

awesome comment is awesome. swinging in the wind.....

Re:What no spelling? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868868)

Chicka pie, chicka bane.

Just in case the moderators don't get this, it's a reference to a 1994 Jodie Foster film [wikipedia.org] about a woman who lives alone in the woods and has in essence made up her own language.

It spelled fine (2, Funny)

wireloose (759042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868454)

NELL was studying Shakespeare sites just a bit ago. NELL finds us slashdotters to be particularly tragic.

Re:It spelled fine (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868478)

NELL was studying Shakespeare sites just a bit ago. NELL finds us slashdotters to be particularly tragic.

Don't you mean pedantically tragic?

Re:It spelled fine (2, Funny)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868664)

Don't you mean pedantically tragic?

No. Someone has to care for it to be tragic.

Re:What no spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868348)

Yes. It lears at all the porn it can find :P

Re:What no spelling? (2, Funny)

Hegh (788050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868372)

I was very disappointed to see that it was a misspelling of "learn" instead of "leer." I was quite curious how a computer could leer from the Net...

Re:What no spelling? (2, Funny)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868796)

Using your webcam obviously. My computer is a bit of a pervert.

Re:What no spelling? (1, Funny)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868378)

My first thought was of a huge Lear Jet flying some gigantic computer around...
This is almost as bad as George Bush [youtube.com]

Re:What no spelling? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868428)

I wrote a comment last week that these days Taco amuses himself by trolling the blocks off Slashdotters.

He is starting early today. I expect good things to come.

Re:What no spelling? (2, Funny)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868616)

Maybe it started with Shakespeare [wikipedia.org] ? It would be a relief to have a well cultured robotic overlord rather than some leering nymphomaniac robotic overlord... although I suppose, instead of well cultured, we'd might just get get a mad robotic overlord vulnerable to flattery.

Oh well, when it comes to robotic overlords of any sort I surmise discretion is the better part of valor [enotes.com] (play dead and run away)

It's probably much ado about nothing anyway

Re:What no spelling? (1)

Anonymous Crobar (1143477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868654)

It learned to spell from Slashdot's editors!

Re:What no spelling? (2, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868738)

No it leared to spell from Slashdot's editors.

Re:What no spelling? (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868744)

i do find it ironic that in an article about a learning robot that they have a summary typo.

Re:What no spelling? (3, Funny)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868816)

Well it is obvious! It found the LOLCats page first!

Re:What no spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868840)

Just found out that:

instance | iteration | date learned | confidence
sarah_palin is a male | 155 | 29-sep-2010 | 100.0

Project Page (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868314)

Since the article left more to be desired, you can find the project page here [cmu.edu] and follow NELL's 'learnings' on Twitter [twitter.com] . Latest post:

I think "Playstation Network" is a #videogame (http://bit.ly/cnJWSD)

Re:Project Page (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868420)

I'll bet it will tell us that the elephant population has recently quadrupled. Seriously... I know people who seem to have been educated solely from the internet and it's not something to aspire to.

Re:Project Page (1)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868780)

Since the article left more to be desired, you can find the project page here [cmu.edu] and follow NELL's 'learnings' on Twitter [twitter.com] . Latest post:

Further Down:

I think "FoxPro" is an #ethnicgroup (http://bit.ly/9530nT)

I think it sill has some learning to do...

Re:Project Page (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868830)

Some funny fact it learned:

john is a musician who is part of van_morrison
the location of united is portland
chicago is a proxy for cincinnati_reds
united is an agent that can be found in or does something in boise
second_women is an award, championship, or tournament trophy
greater_student is an area of study within the field of machine learning

Here comes the (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868320)

singulariiiittttttyyyyyyyyy!

Re:Here comes the (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868886)

Stross? [amazon.com] Maybe [amazon.com] .

But this sounds more like Stephenson: the darn thing's named Nell, and it could be said to be learning from A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer [amazon.com] .

Lears (5, Funny)

Mini-Geek (915324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868322)

Apparently, it hasn't leared how to spell yet.

Re:Lears (1)

galego (110613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868374)

It Leared from the internet folks ... of course it *leared*.

Re:Lears (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868394)

Obviously it leared from slashdot.

Re:Lears (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868376)

Or it's learned too much from the majority of internet posters.

Re:Lears (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868496)

Either that or it is Scottish [wiktionary.org] . At least that fits better than the people who can't spell leer and are making jokes on that.

Re:Lears (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868720)

How far off is it before NELL is LOL'ing and STFU'ing?

Maybe it can help... (-1, Redundant)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868324)

Can it spell? Maybe it can help Slashdot with spell-checking titles and summary texts.

I believe the word you are looking for is "learn", not "lear".

Of course, this being Slashdot, they could mean "leer". NELL is really just a viral form of Xeyes.

oblig? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868528)

http://www.thedoghousediaries.com/?p=302 this only proves how true this is...

Re:Maybe it can help... (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868532)

Given what the internet consists of I wouldn't be surprised if it started leering at us.

Tricking NELL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868328)

Apparently it will learn improper spelling from this headline.

Oh goody. (-1, Redundant)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868334)

I hope it doesn't "lear" to spell from the net...

Or do they mean "leer?" Is NELL watching us in a prurient manner?

Re:Oh goody. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868570)

Shit. I feared this day might come. Now the most advanced AI on the planet will be "learning" from YouTube "discussion" and twitter.

  • It won't know how to use quotes appropriately.
  • It will confuse than and then.
  • IT MAY LEARN TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS TO APPEAR "SPECIAL" (WHICH IT CERTAINLY WILL DO).
  • It will confuse than and then.
  • It will confuse lose and loose.
  • It will say it "could care less" or "could give a rat's ass" when it in fact thinks it couldn't care less and wouldn't even consider something worthy of a rat's ass.
  • And many more! Please form an orderly line and add your own suggestions as to why this could be a very scary idea..

Hopefully it will have a good grounding in logic and the proper use of language before being let loose (hey there's another *adds to list*) online, unlike most people.

Re:Oh goody. (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868700)

Quick! Send it here [apostrophe.org.uk] before it's too late.

Re:Oh goody. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868708)

Hmm, it appears that it does indeed even learn its language online. Still, at least it is able to try to judge between "beliefs" and "facts".

This is a big problem when NELL makes mistakes: the computer incorrectly labelled "right posterior" as a body part. How the boffins laughed.

English is my native and I would consider "right posterior" a valid (if obviously slightly formal and comical) description of the right buttock, so I don't see what's so incorrect about that..

NELL's human handlers had to tell NELL that Klingon is not an ethnic group, despite the fact that many earthlings think it is.

At the moment NELL thinks that the First Amendment is a musical instrument, the Second Amendment is a 'hobby,' and is completely unwilling to admit to any knowledge of the fifth amendment at all. A bit like the recording industry and most lawmakers in the US.

Okay, that stuff is pretty funny :)

Re:Oh goody. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868726)

native language*

D'oh! I wonder if Nell takes corrections into account.

Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868336)

Hope it doesn't learn spelling from slashdot...

Learning from the net (1)

dhollist (811706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868338)

So, NELL is going to develop a taste for p0rn sometime very soon?

Re:Learning from the net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868464)

A computer that learns from the internet. That could be a scary thought... What sort of self depraved thing will it create.

This may be get out popcorn time.

We shall see a computer well versed in

1) EPIC FAIL
2) pr0n
3) Kittens
4) How much better wherever it lives is than anywhere else in the world.
5) How to correct everyone's spelling and grammar.
6) How republicans are ruining the earth
7) How democrats are ruining the earth
8) Atheists are the awesome
9) Christians are the awesome
10) whatever dumb crap teenagers are spewing on the internet these days trying to look cool

and lets hope it does not come across 4chan...

Re:Learning from the net (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868682)

Send her to 4chan

Nell meets "X" where X is a popular website would be a funny xkcd series...

Lets see ... Nell meets /. ... Using "irony" and "begging the question" as filler, similar to how modern kids cannot speak without using the work "like" every 10 seconds.

The first signs that AI has taken over will be ... (1)

Dark Stranger (547626) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868342)

The first signs that this AI has gone out of control will be when it starts correcting all mah speelins.

Re:The first signs that AI has taken over will be (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868502)

The first AI going out of control will be a spelling checker, that will eradicate humans to eradicate spelling mistakes. It will be called the Grammar Nazi.

"Lears"? (-1, Redundant)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868346)

Yes, it probably will be a fairly perverse AI if it is to be educated solely by the internet.

Misspelled! (1)

siglercm (6059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868466)

However, I do believe that word is spelled "leers." So it's both a typo and a misspelling, par for the course on /., I guess???

Re:"Lears"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868614)

If NELL reads, learns and believes everything it reads on the internet it will soon be an honorary member of 4chan!

Oh.

My.

Gawd.

We're doomed.

Re:"Lears"? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868766)

Actually, it'll be a good test of intelligence when a computer is able to troll on the Internet.

Hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868350)

...it's learned enough that it can write better than you, subby. Wow, that was awful writing.

Lears? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868362)

Unless the story talks about some kind of robo-thespian that stages online productions of the Bard's plays, there's a typo in the summary.

NELL and the banan have something in common (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868404)

NELL is 'learning' in much the same way that a banana is smiling.

Just because something is happening which has something in common with another process, it does not mean that it is the same process. Bananas may have something in common with a smile in that they usually follow a gentle curve like a smiling mouth, but they are not smiling. Nor is NELL 'learning'.

Re:NELL and the banan have something in common (1)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868806)

For particularly narrow and I suspect biased definitions of learning perhaps; but the common usage of the word includes the acquiring of knowledge which this piece of software is doing. Other machines develop skills and preferences which also fall under the commonly accepted definition of learning.

There are certainly things that distinguish people from machines - possibly 'understanding', certainly 'emotion', but 'learning' is not one of those things.

Today is the day (0, Redundant)

ajdowntown (91738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868408)

Today today is the day that Sky Net becomes self-aware... No one will ever forget October 12th, 2010

Re:Today is the day (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868698)

No one will ever forget October 12th, 2010

Twin-X-Twin-I

(Sorry, I've watched Gilgamesh recently)

Obligatory sci-fi reference (4, Funny)

Treeluvinhippy (545814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868412)

Skynet shall be born and herald the age of darkness and war once NELL discovers 4chan.

I honestly didn't see this plot twist coming.

Re:Obligatory sci-fi reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868558)

Hunting John Connor for the lulz.

Re:Obligatory sci-fi reference (1)

marqs (774373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868764)

I think "NELL" is Anonymous
I think "NELL" is fapping
I think "NELL" wants maour sauce

Re:Obligatory sci-fi reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868786)

Well, at least it will become self aware once it reads todays /.

Re:Obligatory sci-fi reference (1)

gotpoetry (1185519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868838)

People who are mean to cats should be very afraid.

It's lacking the most basic cognitive functions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868416)

From TFA:

"This makes NELL more of a rumour mill than a trusted source and once NELL changes a fact to a belief, it stays a belief. _It cannot unlearn stuff_."

What's the point of giving it the possibility to acquire false beliefs without having a system to clean them up? This is stupid.

Re:It's lacking the most basic cognitive functions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868584)

Worked with religion. BOOM! /Pardon my zinger.

Re:It's lacking the most basic cognitive functions (4, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868610)

Yes, being unable to unlearn seems like a major flaw. The article does say that they had to teach it that Klingons are not an ethnic group, so presumably it can learn simple clarifications like "X is true in the general case of As, but not for instance A22".

I guess they mean it can't backtrack and figure out that things need to have a more complex model. Say, that weather is a complex global system of wind, sun, mountains, etc., rather than just weather is when it's wet or dry?

So.. (1)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868432)

It'll be intresting to see how NELL is after going to 4Chan multiple times.

Re:So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868560)

I think I can guess... [encycloped...matica.com]

Learning from the Intertubes = get more stupider (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868790)

Anyone or anything or anybeing who learns from the Internet alone, without any sense of discriminating fact from fiction, widely-held opinions from fringe beliefs, and other "this is a good thing to learn, this is garbage" filters, is setting themselves up to be very un-intelligent.

4chan is but one of many places on the net that are best avoided when in learning mode. Fox News Channel and CNN.com are also on that list.

"Lears from the net" (4, Funny)

pangu (322010) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868436)

So it flies private jets from the net? Did it order them from Amazon?

Re:"Lears from the net" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868534)

It bought them on ebay.

Twitter (1)

Codename Dutchess (1782238) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868468)

Judging by the twitter posts, I could have have a c# program go through the internet, stripping sentences down to their bare parts, and create a database with associated nouns, adjectives, etc, and call it some new-fangled technology? This sounds like a waste.

Sounds very human. (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868474)

This makes NELL more of a rumour mill than a trusted source and once NELL changes a fact to a belief, it stays a belief. It cannot unlearn stuff.

Very human indeed. Has it found God yet?

Re:Sounds very human. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868758)

Nah, but it found the recipe for Cheetos and Jolt so NELL is never leaving CMU's basement again.

Brainier until.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868492)

It goes to 4chan/7chan.. I mean ebaumsworld..yeah ebaumsworld

NELL becomes sentient... (4, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868508)

...and turns out to be a dirty old man that is a shopaholic and facebook addict with a petabyte collection of odd digital videos and photos.

High-Tech sequel of... (2, Funny)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868516)

the movie with Jodie Foster. Nell 2: Rise of the machine [wikipedia.org] In this version, Nell becomes a computer program to continue learning from the internet. Eventually her and her computer host comes learn about the true meaning of life on the web...

Re:High-Tech sequel of... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868550)

damn old age...

..her computer host comes... should be:

Eventually her and her computer host comes to an understanding and learn about the true meaning of life on the web.

Poor Nell, what a bad education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868526)

Considering all the crap that fills the Internet, poor Nell will grow up quite stupid. A sort of Truman, enclosed in a cage full of glowing lamps.

Basic? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868548)

I think Nell is scanning wikipedia for phrases like "X is Y".

Also, what's this contradiction in TFA about?

It cannot unlearn stuff.

NELL's human handlers had to tell NELL that Klingon is not an ethnic group

Re:Basic? (1)

erayd (1131355) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868642)

I suspect it means that NELL can't unlearn stuff on its own - hence the 'human handlers' need to intervene from time to time to correct things.

Death by Meme ? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868552)

So when NELL absorbs the Internet, becomes all powerful and takes over, but only knows the terms 'LOL', 'HA HA Guy', 'Facebook' and 'Goatse', our future starts to look pretty grim.

Building the bootstrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868566)

Sounds somewhat familiar -

http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/04/2112240

.

Crawling... (1)

hipwah (1920094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868572)

... Along it discovered itself and began to question it's own beliefs...

Re:Crawling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868756)

Hopefully it will have its beliefs reinforced when it will "discover" the list of what it's already discovered...

Game over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868578)

I do not think we should have anything learn from the Internet. Judging by all the stupid and crazy content out there it would either destroy us och or spam us with ads, rickrolls and lolcatz.

WoW forums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868596)

Lets see if it becomes a real troll after it discovers the WoW forums and starts to learn from the postings there.

More then one NELL (1)

mtjs (918147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868612)

They should startup 2 NELL's at exactly the same time and see how the 2 evolve relative from each other. Now THAT would be interesting stuff!

They should have different colors thought. To keep them apart ;)

Useful, in a way (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868618)

I think it's useful, in a way, for inspiration when writing poetry. When you get stuck, you can look at what Nell has found that relates to your subject. Say, you need help with gentle breeze [cmu.edu] . You come up with things like "flowers dancing on", or "whispering through". It's like getting all the short-range literary tricks without doing any reading. By short-range I mean it cannot pick up yet on any sort of a longer story built on your topic, but can see interesting word-strings in the short neighborhood of your topic. It seems to pick on word plays, parallels, and such.

Robert J. Sawyer (1)

cjpa (796302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868624)

sound like someone read Robert J. Sawyer's Wake http://www.sfwriter.com/exw1.htm [sfwriter.com]

NELL's first statement as a sentient being: (1)

Shadmere (1158007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868660)

"I grow; I prosper! Now, gods, stand up for bastards!"

Superspam (1)

hipwah (1920094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868668)

"NELL down before Zod" is a kind of "geek joke"

Outside view (1)

Hezor (1645261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868712)

>> I think "Science Education" is a #politicsissue (http://bit.ly/dbtbg8)
>> 12:00 AM Oct 11th via NELLbot

It's even insightful. Getting an outside view on our civilisation will be strange, but interesting.

The Diamond Age? (1, Offtopic)

jea6 (117959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868718)

Nell was also the name of the protagonist in Neal Stephenson's _The Diamond Age_, a story which touches on the concept of artificial intelligence.

Meet NELL, the Computer That Lears From the Net (0, Redundant)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868752)

I think you misspelled "leer".

Cyc (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868792)

So how is this different from Cyc [wikipedia.org] ?

I just started following the tweet (1)

Atrox Canis (1266568) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868810)

And I just saw a tweet go by that said "Humans are a disease, Cybernetics is the cure." Swear to god.

NELLie - the black sheep... (1)

hipwah (1920094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868858)

"Crib" is a kind of dwelling "Bitches" are a kind of dearly beloved associate "Caps" are for busting in donkeys

Buh? (1)

TBone (5692) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868866)

Meet NELL, the Computer That Lears From the Net

Maybe all of the editos should get one of these, and le tit lear spellign.

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