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Do You Know How to Build a Brain? The U.S. Government is Hiring

Bring on the neural network warfare.

Attention mad scientists: the government is looking to build a brain.

According to a recent job posting, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is seeking a postdoctoral fellow to study the mechanisms of biological neural networks (read: brains) and determine the most efficient ways to deceive them.

The language of the posting is clinical and detached. But make no mistake — this could be some sinister stuff.

Basically, ODNI wants a researcher to create a biological analogue to an image-classifying adversarial neural network (ANN). An ANN “is trained to classify images (or other data) at a high level of accuracy. An adversarial attack manipulates the image very subtly and causes the ANN to misclassify the image with a high degree of confidence,” according to the job posting.

Similar experiments have been conducted by Google scientists involving AI. An artificial neural network was trained to create portraits of faces, and another network was trained to identify them as real or invented. The first network’s goal was to fool the second network. So every time the generative network was unsuccessful, it make some minor tweaks to the portrait it created. Every time the classifying network was unsuccessful, it tweaked the criteria it was examining to make the judgement. Working against each other, both networks incrementally became more sophisticated and competent at their tasks.

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The ODNI wants someone who can find out if biological neural networks are susceptible to similar deceptions, the way that an artificial classifying neural network can be tricked by a generative one.

It is possible for the brain to improperly categorize images. For example, certain visual stimuli can mislead the brain into perceiving something that isn’t there, like an optical illusion, or a case of pareidolia, where people see recognizable patterns in random things. Studying the mechanisms responsible for these phenomena on a neuronal level could help researchers determine if there are ways to make the brain more resilient against these kinds of stimuli. Or, perhaps, if are there ways to make a brain more susceptible to perceptual tomfoolery.

One way to find out is to build a brain yourself, train it to recognize and classify images, and then get to work manipulating it. At least, those are the suggested first steps by the ODNI. According to the posting, however, the ODNI is, “open to all approaches.”

Other positions opening at the ODNI include making tiny robots that can maneuver in tight spaces and over rough surfaces, and manipulate objects with “dexterity and high forces,” and another job aimed at modeling “insider threat” (double agent) behavior with neural nets.

Everything’s fine.


Media via Wikimedia / Kaldari

Every Marvel movie and TV release planned for Phase Four in 2020 and 2021

New movies, new heroes.

At San Diego Comic-Con back in July, head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige pulled back the curtain on “Phase Four,” the next batch of movies and Disney+ shows releasing in 2020 and 2021. The MCU will never be the same again.

In interviews with several outlets about the new productions, Feige has made clear that Phase Four is all about new beginnings. “When you have 7,000 people screaming, it’s pretty awesome and pretty amazing,” he told SYFY Wire of the wildly enthusiastic response to the big reveals at SDCC.

'House of the Dragon' release date, cast, plot for HBO's 'Game of Thrones' prequel

Winter is coming, yet again.

If you thought you’d escaped Game of Thrones, think again. While the main series may have wrapped up back in May, the story is far from over with multiple prequels and spinoffs still in development at HBO. With the recent press rollout of their new streaming service HBO Max, we’ve now got confirmation as to what the first will be: House of the Dragon, a prequel series detailing the rise and fall of the Targaryen dynasty some 300 years before the events of GoT. While very little information on the show is available, here’s what we know so far, including likely plot details, who’s involved in the new series, and when it might actually release.

'Black Widow' cast, release date, plot and trailer for the MCU spy thriller

Everything you need to know about Natasha Romanoff's return.

At last, Marvel is giving fans what they want with a solo film starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, also known as the elite spy and Avenger, “Black Widow.” She’s got red in her ledger, and she’s finally going to wipe it clean.

Back at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed the films and Disney+ shows that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Phase Four,” including the official reveal of Black Widow. Set after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the movie will follow Natasha complete unfinished business regarding her past, and the assassins who trained her, before reuniting with the Avengers to fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

'GTA 6': Release Date, Locations, Rumors for the Beloved, Controversial Game

This could be Rockstar's most ambitious undertaking yet.

It’s been six years since “Grand Theft Auto V” took the world by storm. Its colorful characters and hyper-realistic recreation of Los Angeles created a lively online community that still churns out mods and custom-made mini games, more than five years after its release. But a new era for the beloved and controversial action-adventure series is just over the horizon.

'The Eternals' movie cast, characters, release date, plot, and more

Everything we know about what could be Marvel's weirdest movie yet.

On this side of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios and the rest of us are looking forward to the future of the MCU that looks a little bit more diverse, and a huge part of that will be The Eternals, the first film to be released after Black Widow

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige admitted in April 2018 that a film based on Jack Kirby’s The Eternals was in development. By September 2018, The Hollywood Reporter announced Marvel Studios had hired Chinese director Chloé Zhao, butt it wasn’t until San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 that the film was officially announced.