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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In the quest to build AI that goes beyond today's single-purpose machines, scientists are developing new tools to help it remember the right things — and forget the rest, Kaveh reports.
Getting that balance right is the difference between a machine that can trade stocks like a pro but can't make heads or tails of a crossword puzzle, and one that learns all that plus a variety of other skills, and continually improves them — an important step toward human-like intelligence.
"AI is entirely about memory and forgetting," says Dileep George, founder of the AI company Vicarious.
Another effect of catastrophic forgetting is that a computer learning a new task can lose the ability to do an old one — like a language learner forgetting their native tongue.
These help with AI's forgetting problem — but they're not how human brains work, says Blake Richards, a neuroscientist and AI researcher at the University of Toronto.
A trick humans do during sleep may be key to moving AI closer to the way we learn, says Cox. At rest, we relive recent memories, and in doing so reinforce neural pathways that help us remember them.
What's next: Perfecting memory could unlock AI "that can actually make insightful predictions and imagine what's going to happen in the future," Richards says. That's a crucial building block toward common sense, long a holy grail for AI researchers.
Photo: Yegor Aleyev/TASS/Getty
On April 7th, while vacationing in Florida, I lost my wallet, Erica writes.
At first, it really stung: I thought I would be totally incapacitated until I could get to the bank for a new debit card.
But it really hasn't been so bad. In fact, it has been so easy to live without cash or cards that I haven't made it to the bank in six weeks.
Why it matters: We've reported on how the U.S. has fallen behind on revolutionizing payments, keeping up its reliance on credit cards while China has leapfrogged from cash to mobile payments. Only 1% of Americans pay with their phones — that's fewer than the 2% who still use checks to pay.
But I found that a ton of the infrastructure to go cashless and cardless already exists. (Though it's worth noting that you do still need the card. You can just use it remotely.)
Here is what my six weeks turned up:
Sometimes, I really do need access to cash (to replace the Metro card that I lost, for instance). For things like that, I'll just go to Trader Joe's, buy a bottle of water, and request cash back at the register.
The bottom line: I actually kind of like using my phone to pay for things — it saves time and it's very, very convenient.
And cash is out. My former Axios colleague Martin Aguirre told me: "I paid for a coffee today in cash, and the woman looked at me like I was a drug dealer."
Photo: Arindam Dey/AFP/Getty
Some distractions are worth it. To catch up, here is the top of this week's Future:
1. Beating the 'superforecasters': A geopolitical prognostication contest
2. The new sharecroppers: The hidden workforce behind the AI revolution
3. Untested systems for criminal justice: Much of applied AI doesn't work
4. The race to move stuff: Amazon wants to dominate another industry
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Rollie, a western lowland gorilla, has given birth to a son, according to an announcement from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The birth last Sunday has attracted attention because poaching and the loss of their habitat have made western lowland gorillas critically endangered in central Africa.
This makes eight in the lowland gorilla troop at the zoo. There are three adult females, three juvenile females, plus a silverback male named Kwan.