Artificial Intelligence Confronts a ‘Reproducibility’ Crisis | WIRED


A few years ago, Joelle Pineau, a computer science professor at McGill, was helping her students design a new algorithm when they fell into a rut. Her lab studies reinforcement learning, a type of artificial intelligence that’s used, among other things, to help virtual characters (“half cheetah” and “ant” are popular) teach themselves how to move about in virtual worlds. It’s a prerequisite to building autonomous robots and cars. Pineau’s students hoped to improve on another lab’s system. But first they had to rebuild it, and their design, for reasons unknown, was falling short of its promised results. Until, that is, the students tried some “creative manipulations” that didn’t appear in the other lab’s paper.

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