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Computers can now keep SECRETS: Google’s neural network is learning to encrypt its own messages

  • Google Brain team taught neural networks a simple encryption technique
  • They created networks Alice and Bob, who had to hide a message from Eve
  • At first Bob and Eve showed a similar ability to decipher Alice’s messages
  • But after practicing, Bob was much more successful in reading the text

Article by Abigail Beall

Experts like Professor Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence becoming too smart and turning against humanity.

Now it seems a team at Google has brought computing another step towards this nightmare becoming a reality, by teaching its networks to keep secrets.

The computer systems have learn how to protect their messages away from prying eyes.


Ateam at Google has taught its networks to keep secrets. The computer systems have learn how to protect their messages away from prying eyes

Researchers from the Google Brain team, Martin Abadi and David Andersen, published a paper showing how computer networks can work out how to use a simple encryption technique.

The Google research group specialises in the area of deep learning, using huge amounts of data.

The computing system was designed based on the way neurons work in the brain, a type of computer called a ‘neural network’.

In a paper published on the preprint server arXiv, the researchers said:

‘We ask whether neural networks can learn to use secret keys to protect information from other neural networks.

‘Specifically, we focus on ensuring confidentiality properties in a multiagent system, and we specify those properties in terms of an adversary.’

The team created a system that ‘may consist of neural networks named Alice and Bob, and we aim to limit what a third neural network named Eve learns from eavesdropping on the communication between Alice and Bob,’ they said.

Alice, Bob and Eve are names computer scientists and physicists always use to name parts of their experiments.

To make sure the message remained secret, the network named Alice had to convert her original plain-text message into something unintelligible.

This meant anyone who intercepted it, including Eve, would not be able to understand the message.

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