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Artificial intelligence pioneer says we need to start over

Geoffrey Hinton harbors doubts about AI's current workhorse. (Johnny Guatto / University of Toronto)

In 1986, Geoffrey Hinton co-authored a paper that, three decades later, is central to the explosion of artificial intelligence. But Hinton says his breakthrough method should be dispensed with, and a new path to AI found.

Speaking with Axios on the sidelines of an AI conference in Toronto on Wednesday, Hinton, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and a Google researcher, said he is now "deeply suspicious" of back-propagation, the workhorse method that underlies most of the advances we are seeing in the AI field today, including the capacity to sort through photos and talk to Siri. "My view is throw it all away and start again," he said.

The bottom line: Other scientists at the conference said back-propagation still has a core role in AI's future. But Hinton said that, to push materially ahead, entirely new methods will probably have to be invented. "Max Planck said, 'Science progresses one funeral at a time.' The future depends on some graduate student who is deeply suspicious of everything I have said."

How it works: In back propagation, labels or "weights" are used to represent a photo or voice within a brain-like neural layer. The weights are then adjusted and readjusted, layer by layer, until the network can perform an intelligent function with the fewest possible errors.

But Hinton suggested that, to get to where neural networks are able to become intelligent on their own, what is known as "unsupervised learning," "I suspect that means getting rid of back-propagation."

"I don't think it's how the brain works," he said. "We clearly don't need all the labeled data."

Shannon Vavra 1 hour ago
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Amazon can now deliver to car trunks

Amazon boxes on a conveyor belt.
Boxes on conveyor belt. Photo: Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Amazon announced Thursday it is launching a new service that will deliver packages to trunks of GM and Volvo cars in 37 cities by leveraging connected technologies installed in many cars today, The Verge reports.

Flashback: Last year Amazon got some Prime members to give it permission to drop off packages inside their homes.

Kia Kokalitcheva 4 hours ago
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Walmart taps DoorDash for grocery delivery

Photo: Walmart

DoorDash has inked a deal with Walmart to provide grocery delivery services for the retailer’s stores in the Atlanta area, the companies said on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is part of DoorDash’s recent foray beyond restaurant deliveries so it can compete with diversified rivals like Postmates and UberEats. For Walmart, it’s undeniably about continuing its war with Amazon after the tech giant's acquisition of Whole Foods, which it’s using to bolster its grocery business. Walmart has been testing grocery delivery with other partners for a while now, including Uber, Lyft, and Deliv.