Artificial intelligence
Google's DeepMind neural network is so clever that it can now solve complex puzzles all by itself iStock

Google's artificially intelligent neural network of computers is now so clever that it can solve puzzles meant for computing professionals who apply for jobs with the internet giant.

According to researchers from Oxford University, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Google, the DeepMind neural network can be taught to solve communication-based co-ordination tasks. The network previous succeeded in teaching itself to play 31 retro arcade video games, although it was unable to master Pac-Man.

The robot first needs to develop a communications protocol in order to communicate with other agents in the network, and the researchers say that for the first time, deep reinforcement learning has enabled the neural network to successfully learn communications protocols.

The puzzle set for the neural network is one that is posed to prospective Google employees when they attend an interview with the company.

In order to solve this problem, the DeepMind neural network modelled each of the 100 prisoners as a separate computer in the network and then considered what coloured hats each agent would be able to see if they were lined up in a row. Each artificially intelligent agent had to consider what to tell the others, and then collectively they could work out the answer.

The researchers say that the network of computers was able to work out the answer to the problem by themselves and this is a great step towards getting robots to work together successfully to complete tasks.

"They've come up with protocols that are different from how humans solve these problems. We don't yet fully understand what the solutions are, but we know that they work," Oxford University researcher Jakob Foerster told New Scientist magazine.

The research, entitled "Learning to Communicate to Solve Riddles with Deep Distributed Recurrent Q-Networks", is an open-access paper published in the Cornell University Library repository.