The Spooky Secret Behind Artificial Intelligence’s Incredible Power

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Spookily powerful artificial intelligence (AI) systems may work so well because their structure exploits the fundamental laws of the universe, new research suggests.

The new findings may help answer a longstanding mystery about a class of artificial intelligence that employ a strategy called deep learning. These deep learning or deep neural network programs, as they’re called, are algorithms that have many layers in which lower-level calculations feed into higher ones. Deep neural networks often perform astonishingly well at solving problems as complex as beating the world’s best player of the strategy board game Go or classifying cat photos, yet know one fully understood why.

It turns out, one reason may be that they are tapping into the very special properties of the physical world, said Max Tegmark, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a co-author of the new research.

The laws of physics only present this “very special class of problems” — the problems that AI shines at solving, Tegmark told Live Science. “This tiny fraction of the problems that physics makes us care about and the tiny fraction of problems that neural networks can solve are more or less the same,” he said.

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