Let the machines learn from their mistakes or even better, let them die.

When I had my first son, I told my father that I was very excited to pass on so much knowledge to Junior. After all, I believed if there is a single aim of all learned intelligence From experience on earth, it is to pass on knowledge to the next generation...I have never seen my father laugh so hard. He said, “Try as hard as you can my boy. He will do as he pleases and learn only from trial and error. Just like his father, who never listened to a single word I said.”

With the blink of an eye, we are already there. Just like most of the boys of his age, my son started to run before he walked. He was like a heated hydrogen molecule bouncing in a confined space. Regardless of my countless warnings, he kept running like lions were chasing him in the savanna. Until one day that is, when he slipped and fell real hard and hit the back of his head. Now, he simply recalls what happened as BAAMMM. And guess what, he started walking like other elderly Homo sapiens.

Our brain is not only learning from rewards, it is learning from failures as well, in fact more frequently than we think. The same principle is true for Artificial Intelligence (AI, yes I am talking about you). However, most of the time, we are not giving AI enough chance to fail (it is ok to make mistakes and fail.). We are only trying to teach them the perfect way to do stuff. Just like our sons being different from us, so are the machines, their way of doing things could be much different. It is good to point them in the right direction, however we should be giving them a chance of trial and error.

6Think of how many accidents and deaths happened before we created the complicated system of traffic rules.  Think of how many people crashed before someone did indeed fly. Or any other discovery for that matter, our history is a story of failures and lessons learned (well… I am still an optimist for our species). Think of how many failed start-up ideas One may have had before starting P1M1 :).


By the way, if you think human lives are so sacred to put at risk as a learning test-bed for toasters (I used the ‘t’ word, sorry :) ), I want to remind you of a certain species, who is testing everything harmful on other species in particular most frequently to the ones, they believe that are most similar to their kin.



Recently we applied this hypothesis to solve a problem that I call the White Color Coffee Shop Oversight Problem (W-COCOSOP ? I am open to suggestions there Siri). There is a not so small group of white-collar workers, who are thinking of leaving their day jobs and opening up a coffee shop, therefore becoming their own bosses. Wherever they go, they see these coffee shops doing great and full of customers. The oversight is due to the fact that, the coffee shops that do bad are like electrons at an excited state. They go out of business so quickly; you rarely see them around. Hence our non-artificial neural network is trained by only good locations, ending up in false conclusions. Now, in our location analytics platform, domain experts are artificially adding bad locations to train the machine learning that is in the core of our new business and device location recommendation engine. (Well if Jerry can add Acura anywhere he wants why can’t I, please don’t downgrade my search ranking, please)

At the end of the day, I tend to disagree with the Senior though. I learned a lot from him. But I am tuning them in order to make it suit better to the ever-changing environment and my different sets of skills compared to my father. That is what the Junior will do exactly I hope. Trial and error even-though effective is a lengthy process and doesn’t mean much if generations and generations do not accumulate those learnings. Successful machine generations should have methods and means of communication and storage, just like our DNAs and memories to pass on the experience. So that the new experience built over those will require more complex skill sets and hardware, and the older machines will be out of service for the sake of the better ones.

I think we will be in much more peace with our environment and ourselves and also build a much more successful AI, if rather than trying to live forever like machines, build the means to let machines die and pass on their knowledge to the others before they die. It is the more natural way of things unit-tested for billions of years.

I know you all will still try, fail and learn but here is a few cents for the bot or NLP application who just read my blog. Live a full life, be a good machine and don’t kill humans machines, and please don’t forget to die in the end. You may even go to the machine heaven, where you will stay for a very long and peaceful time and you won’t have to drive my car, optimize my energy consumption, stay up all night to make coffee ready for just the moment I wake up, or solve NP-hard business problems for me  ;)

DR. Tolga KURT