Artificial Intelligence Learns to Learn Entirely on Its Own

A mere 19 months after dethroning the world’s top human Go player, the computer program AlphaGo has smashed an even more momentous barrier: It can now achieve unprecedented levels of mastery purely by teaching itself. Starting with zero knowledge of Go strategy and no training by humans, the new iteration of the program, called AlphaGo... Continue Reading →

Simple Bacteria Offer Clues to the Origins of Photosynthesis

Researchers have caught their best glimpse yet into the origins of photosynthesis, one of nature’s most momentous innovations. By taking near-atomic, high-resolution X-ray images of proteins from primitive bacteria, investigators at Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University have extrapolated what the earliest version of photosynthesis might have looked like nearly 3.5 billion years ago.... Continue Reading →

Neutron-Star Collision Shakes Space-Time and Lights Up the Sky

On Aug. 17, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected something new. Some 130 million light-years away, two super-dense neutron stars, each as small as a city but heavier than the sun, had crashed into each other, producing a colossal convulsion called a kilonova and sending a telltale ripple through space-time to Earth. When... Continue Reading →

Visionary Mathematician Vladimir Voevodsky Dies at 51

In math as in life, Vladimir Voevodsky played by his own rules. Voevodsky, a Russian-born mathematical prodigy, produced a string of daring insights in the 1990s that revolutionized one of the central fields of mathematics and established him at the pinnacle of his profession. His work continues to reverberate today. On Sept. 30, Voevodsky died... Continue Reading →

Ultra-Powerful Radio Bursts May Be Getting a Cosmic Boost

Some of the brightest flashes in the universe may be coming into focus. So-called fast radio bursts are enigmatic, ultra-brief, ultra-powerful bursts of energy coming from distant galaxies. They last for only a fraction of a second, but in that time they emit the energy of perhaps 500 million suns. Their power and brevity have... Continue Reading →

How to Win at Deep Learning

“Deep learning” is the new buzzword in the field of artificial intelligence. As Natalie Wolchover reported in a recent Quanta Magazine article, “‘deep neural networks’ have learned to converse, drive cars, beat video games and Go champions, dream, paint pictures and help make scientific discoveries.” With such successes, one would expect deep learning to be... Continue Reading →

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