The AI detectives

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 22-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.22

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Deep neural networks, or deep learning, as the field is also called, have the potential to revolutionize scientific discovery. But as these networks are applied to more and more disciplines, many scientists, whose very enterprise is founded on explanation, have been left with a nagging question: Why, model, why? This interpretability problem is galvanizing a new generation of researchers in both industry and academia. Just as the microscope revealed the cell, these researchers are crafting tools that will allow insight into how neural networks make decisions. Some tools probe the artificial intelligence (AI) without penetrating it; some are alternative algorithms that can compete with neural nets, but with more transparency; and some use still more deep learning to get inside the black box. Taken together, they add up to a new discipline. Some call it "AI neuroscience."