Elon Musk’s AI Group Launches “Gym” to Train Robots


Earlier this week, OpenAI, the nonprofit research group with billion-dollar backing from Elon Musk and other tech luminaries, launched its first program. It’s called OpenAI Gym, and it’s meant to be used as a benchmarking tool for artificial intelligence programs.

Musk once said he thought truly artificial intelligent agents could be more harmful to the human race than nuclear weapons. When OpenAI was launched in December, its stated goal was to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” Which sounds a lot like an AI version of Google’s long-held mantra: “Don’t be evil.”

OpenAI Gym is meant to standardize testing for AI systems: If everyone is using the same benchmark tests, there shouldn’t be any sort of unintended consequences, like the destruction of the human race, or AI programs achieving the singularity and leaving us to go do their own thing on the internet. The group has some of the most well-respected minds in the field working on its “gym,” including former Google AI researcher Ilya Sutskever, Stripe’s former technical officer Greg Brockton, and computer scientists Andrej Karpathy, and Wojciech Zaremba, who has worked on Google and Facebook’s AI research programs.

The software works as a “gym” by being not just one test. Researchers submitting their programs will run their code through a range of different scenarios to see how it holds up. According to OpenAI’s blog post, programs in its gym can play classic Atari games like Pong and the board game Go—both of which Google’s AI research divisions have been tackling for a few years—control a robot walking in 2D and 3D environments, and compute equations from examples (rather than being told the mathematical rules), among other tasks. Theoretically, researchers can then see how their programs did, and publish their benchmarks for others to see.

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SOURCE: Quartz, Mike Murphy