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These virtual robot arms get smarter by training each other

MIT Technology Review

A virtual robot arm has learned to solve a wide range of different puzzles--stacking blocks, setting the table, arranging chess pieces--without having to be retrained for each task. It did this by playing against a second robot arm that was trained to give it harder and harder challenges. Self play: Developed by researchers at OpenAI, the identical robot arms--Alice and Bob--learn by playing a game against each other in a simulation, without human input. The robots use reinforcement learning, a technique in which AIs are trained by trial and error what actions to take in different situations to achieve certain goals. The game involves moving objects around on a virtual tabletop.


The Legend of Zelda, 'Dinky,' and a Bridge to My Daughter

WIRED

When winter made its second pandemic appearance here in Montana, I found myself pining to relive my first experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To my dismay, the sequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the bash-fest Nintendo released in November, didn't scratch my itch for sweeping, soothing landscapes and low-stakes puzzle solving during a year of high-stakes reality. I've been home with toddlers for 11 months straight, my every lockdown minute a battle against darkness and chaos, replete with my own two tiny red Bokoblins perpetually swinging their Boko Clubs at my weakened defenses. I wondered daily: Are there even enough stamella shrooms in the entire gaming universe to get us through this year? When we first hunkered down last spring, my kids were 18 months and 4 years old.


For The Kid In Your Life, 3 Video Games That Play Like Storybooks

NPR Technology

Growing up, I always saw playing video games as a natural extension of my interest in reading. To me, the fantastical worlds I explored in games mirrored those of my favorite children's books like Where the Wild Things Are and The Lorax. Many of the games I played and the stories I read shared a similar sense of whimsy and adventure, and piqued my interest with intriguing art styles. And that makes sense, given that some video games evoke the feeling of reading a great piece of children's literature. This is especially true for the point-and-click genre (named after the way you play), which can make you feel like you're turning the pages in a book as you progress from scene to scene, moving your character across a static, 2D illustrated background.


20 DIY kits, puzzles, and games to help you pass time this winter

Mashable

There are a few ways you can spend your time indoors this season -- binge-watching everything you possibly can, endlessly scrolling social media, or actually staying away from screens for a while. We vote for the latter. If you're at a loss for how to spend time away from screens, allow us to share 20 different games, puzzles, and DIY kits to help you out. Most are even on sale for a limited time. A more challenging and amusing take on the classic puzzle, this one challenges your STEM skills as you piece it together and results in a usable Bluetooth speaker.


A new perspective of paramodulation complexity by solving massive 8 puzzles

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

A sliding puzzle is a combination puzzle where a player slide pieces along certain routes on a board to reach a certain end-configuration. In this paper, we propose a novel measurement of complexity of massive sliding puzzles with paramodulation which is an inference method of automated reasoning. It turned out that by counting the number of clauses yielded with paramodulation, we can evaluate the difficulty of each puzzle. In experiment, we have generated 100 * 8 puzzles which passed the solvability checking by countering inversions. By doing this, we can distinguish the complexity of 8 puzzles with the number of generated with paramodulation. For example, board [2,3,6,1,7,8,5,4, hole] is the easiest with score 3008 and board [6,5,8,7,4,3,2,1, hole] is the most difficult with score 48653. Besides, we have succeeded to obverse several layers of complexity (the number of clauses generated) in 100 puzzles. We can conclude that proposal method can provide a new perspective of paramodulation complexity concerning sliding block puzzles.


Myst’s Oculus Quest makeover is the coolest way to revisit this classic

Mashable

Ditch that CD-ROM drive and CRT monitor -- you don't need them to play Myst anymore. Well, to be fair, you haven't needed them for a while. Yes, Myst launches on the Oculus Quest platform this week with an all-new remake that's trying to be a little more transformative than what's come before. Is this the definitive way to experience one of the most popular video games of the 1990s, or should developer Cyan Worlds stick to two dimensions? Before we get to what VR adds and detracts from Myst, it makes sense to evaluate the nearly 30-year-old elements of this release.


Why Unsupervised Deep Networks Generalize

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Promising resolutions of the generalization puzzle observe that the actual number of parameters in a deep network is much smaller than naive estimates suggest. The renormalization group is a compelling example of a problem which has very few parameters, despite the fact that naive estimates suggest otherwise. Our central hypothesis is that the mechanisms behind the renormalization group are also at work in deep learning, and that this leads to a resolution of the generalization puzzle. We show detailed quantitative evidence that proves the hypothesis for an RBM, by showing that the trained RBM is discarding high momentum modes. Specializing attention mainly to autoencoders, we give an algorithm to determine the network's parameters directly from the learning data set. The resulting autoencoder almost performs as well as one trained by deep learning, and it provides an excellent initial condition for training, reducing training times by a factor between 4 and 100 for the experiments we considered. Further, we are able to suggest a simple criterion to decide if a given problem can or can not be solved using a deep network.


Companies are now writing reports tailored for AI readers – and it should worry us

The Guardian

My eye was caught by the title of a working paper published by the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER): How to Talk When a Machine Is Listening: Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI. So I clicked and downloaded, as one does. And then started to read. The paper is an analysis of the 10-K and 10-Q filings that American public companies are obliged to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The 10-K is a version of a company's annual report, but without the glossy photos and PR hype: a corporate nerd's delight.


'Immortals Fenyx Rising' is a monster-smashing deep dive into Greek mythology

Mashable

As far as pantheons go, the Greek gods were a total mess. They were petty, vindictive, horny, destructive, and all around trash fire deities whose myths are wildly entertaining to this day. The Greek pantheon has been explored in video games before, most notably with the original God of War series, Assassin's Creed Odyssey DLC, and Hades, but Immortals Fenyx Rising is the first to offer a fully open world immersed in the Kronos family bullshit from sky to seabed. In Immortals Fenyx Rising the player is Fenyx, a shield bearer and storyteller who washes up on a beach to find the rest of humanity has been turned to stone after the titan Typhon won an apocalyptic battle against the gods and heroes of legend. Fenyx's mission is to reassemble the gods for a second crack at Typhon, a task that takes them across the monster and puzzle-laden landscape of the Golden Isle.


How humans use objects in novel ways to solve problems

#artificialintelligence

MIT researchers developed a cognitive model, the Virtual Tool game, that learns to use tools like humans do. Their "Sample, Simulate, Update" (SSUP) method allows natural trial-and-error learning.