AI program develops brain-like GPS system

DeepMind, a UK company owned by Alphabet, discovered that an AI program trained to navigate through a virtual maze has developed an architecture that resembles the neural “GPS system” found inside a brain, helping the AI find its way around the maze with unprecedented skill.

Neural networks can be useful for many things, but until now they have not proved especially suitable for navigation. Researchers at DeepMind set out to train an artificial neural network to mimic path integration and found that it developed something similar to the “grid cells” found in a biological brain. The research suggests that grid cells play a fundamental role in how animals – including humans – find their way around the world. This discovery has significant practical benefits, like helping robots navigate through unfamiliar buildings more easily.

Although AI research may reveal new thing about the brain that remain mysterious, this idea should be treated with some caution, since there is much we do not know about how the brain works, and since the functioning of artificial neural networks is also often hard to explain. AIWS was established to encourage the application of AI in all aspects of society. We are working closely with policymakers, business leaders, and technologists on the safety and ethical issues surrounding AI, including navigation of AI in neuroscience.