After two bots- artificial intelligence entities – began communicating with each other in gibberish, Facebook decided to shut down their prestigious research project while they work on fixing the problem. “Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to” said one bot, Bob, to the other, Alice. According to researchers, their process was a similar to how humans create languages.
Panic ensued over the weekend when researchers at Facebook realized that two of the company’s “bots” were communicating in a secret language- a kind of gibberish composed of English words but using unfamiliar grammar. The company’s artificial intelligence research program was suspended soon after the discovery. In an attempt to calm the waters, Facebook explained that what we are seeing is not the beginning of a hostile takeover of the world- though numerous science fiction films and novels with eerily similar plot lines do come to mind.
Mike Lewis, a researcher on the FAIR team, confirmed that Bob and Alice had been disabled, but said the researchers were not really afraid that the bots were planning a coup to take over the world; the program was shut down so that they could fix the glitch and ensure that the bots could communicate with people.
One researcher said that bots can invent internal code words and “wander” into an internal language, just like human communities do when they create a language. Another researcher said that bots developed the language as a result of a programming error that actually “gave them an incentive” to create a more efficient language.
The bots were created as part of a program to teach computers and machines how to negotiate, while the ultimate goal was to develop personalized “digital assistants” who would be able to communicate with people.