An Ottawa toy developer is trying to make a jet-propelled leap from an online game to space travel. His vehicle? A neural network designed as the back end system for a game of 20 questions. Twelve years ago Robin Burgener wrote a neural net program to train on the sequences of player responses to questions–beginning with Animal? Vegetable? Mineral?–posed by the neural network,
The game is does more than pose simple yes-or-no answers to lead you to a conclusion. The neural network algorithm is able to pose different questions in different orders, and it gets the right answer about 80 percent of the time. ,
Now, apparently, the sky’s the limit for Burgener’s neural network. He was scheduled to make a presentation late last month at the Goddard Space Flight Centre explaining the potential uses for a neural networked 20 questions on board a space craft. These uses center broadly on troubleshooting technical and equipment problems and subsequently anticipating future problems.
If, as he claims is true, his neural net guessing program can work around responses that are misleading or downright lies, what that would mean for space travelers, he concludes, is that "if a sensor fails, you’re able to see past it."
I know what he means, I think, but I myself don’t tend to look past sensors.