Algorithm learns to understand natural beauty

BBC, Aug 08, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's really time for some proper scepticism from news articles reporting on artificial intelligence. This item on understanding natural beauty is a case in point. For training data, "they focused the algorithm on 200,000 images rated by people on the website ScenicOrNot." The new images are then rated by their similarity to images in the training data. But what does that tell us? That people, in the aggregate, find nature beautiful. Well surprise! But beauty depends (as the saying goes) on the beholder. I can find a ton of beauty in an industrial park. But the algorithm isn't seeing that, because most people don't see it. The same scepticism should be applied to algoritms detecting sarcasm. Different people are sarcastic in different ways; there isn't a 'common' sense of sarcasm.

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