Clever Hans

(Here’s snippet from a new longform article that Brent Simoneaux and I wrote for Red Hat’s Open Source Stories. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the researchers and engineers at OpenAI and how they’re revolutionizing machine learning.)

Ian Goodfellow focuses on something people care a great deal about, adversarial training, or — to put it another way — AI security.

“In the past, security has revolved around application-level security, where you try to trick an application into running the wrong instructions,” he explains. “Or network security, where you send messages to a server that can get misinterpreted. …

“Philosoputer” ©2011 Braydon Fuller (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is part of a series on my quest to learn as much as possible about AI. To know why I’m doing this, check out my first post.

In grad school, I primarily studied Ancient Greek philosophy. Mostly Plato. My only published piece of academic research is on his Atlantis myth.

But now I work at a tech company and I’m writing about artificial intelligence — a subject I’m very interested in but know little about.

Still, knowing what I do about Plato — and what Plato wrote about his famous teacher, Socrates — turns out to be the one…

What’s it like to devote your life to teaching machines how to think?

Over the last several months, I’ve been obsessed with this question.

Before I brew my morning coffee, it’s there. When I eat my lunch, it’s there. Snack time at my desk, it’s there. Dinner with my wife and many pets (3 dogs and 4 cats), it’s there. In bed, trying to fall asleep, it’s there.

It doesn’t go away.

So, I guess it makes sense that I’m devoting the next several months of my life to researching and writing about it with my colleague, Brent Simoneaux.


Casey Stegman

Writer at Red Hat, working on stories about open source technology, culture, and history.

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