Facebook AI Chatbots Create Their Own Language


Nearly 1.97 billion people around the world access Facebook every month. To make these users happy, Facebook often makes marketing moves such as its recent Safety Check notifications.

However, the networking giant’s recent experiment to have two chatbots trade and barter with each other has certainly set off many alarm bells for those users in fear of artificial intelligence.

According to the Telegraph, Facebook aimed to have two artificially intelligent robots named Alice and Bob mimic human trading and bartering in a chatroom. However, rather than mimicking human language, the AI bots began to develop their own.

The robotic language, seemingly repetitive and nonsensical to human readers, developed from Facebook’s attempt to have the chatbots trade each other for hats, balls, and books. The bots would then assign the value of each object and barter with one another. However, because the bots had not been given a reward for speaking in English, they began to develop their own form of communication.

One chatbot began to repeat the phrase “to me” while the other repeated lowercase “I”s and the phrase “everything else” with a series of periods. Like two children unable to speak to one another due to a language barrier, the chatbots began to make their own interpretations of words and meanings that made sense to each other.

“Like, if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item,” Facebook researcher, Dhruv Batra, said to FastCo. “This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”

According to BBC News, many online news outlets reported that Facebook panicked, unable to control their robots, and then shut down the experiment. However, according to Batra in a Facebook post, the company didn’t panic at all.

“Analyzing the reward function and changing the parameters of an experiment is NOT the same as ‘unplugging’ or ‘shutting down AI,'” said Batra. “If that were the case, every AI researcher has been ‘shutting down AI’ every time they kill a job on a machine.”

Facebook plans to redo the experiment with the chatbots. However, this time, there will be a reward system set in place for the bots to remain speaking in English.

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