Robots are terrifying. Anybody who says different is either a robot scientist or somebody who has been replaced by a terrifying, terrifying robot. Think we're overreacting? Think we're advocating hyperbolic, knee-jerk neo-Luddism for the sake of comedy? Probably! But then, if robots are so harmless, explain why science is ...
5Giving Computers Schizophrenia
Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin have done it! They've finally managed to transfer mental diseases to the realm of computers: They gave a supercomputer schizophrenia. G- ... good job, guys?
Was this an actual check box on the Big List of Scientific Accomplishment -- making crazy artificial intelligences? Are we sure that particular line wasn't penciled in after the fact by a disgruntled intern or something?
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"Wait, no...here it is: Schizophrenic Computer, right above Vacuum Cleaner with Chlamydia."
Well, it's too late now, because DISCERN is a very real thing. DISCERN is a neural network: an artificial mind created by simulating human brain connections. To describe the mechanism behind schizophrenia, scientists posited the hyperlearning theory, which states that schizophrenics retain too much information. They learn things they shouldn't, and can't keep the information straight.
Scientists then emulated schizophrenia in an artificial intelligence (we're pretty sure just typing that sentence is technically a war crime) by telling the computer a bunch of stories, letting it establish relationships between words and events, and allowing it to store them as memories with only the relevant details. It worked pretty well. Then they amped up the memory encoder, causing it to retain ALL details, relevant or not, and boom: Roboschizo. The computer lost track of what it was taught and could not relay any coherent narratives.
How crazy did it get?
At one point it claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack. It literally told the researchers that it had planted a bomb. The AI did this because it confused a third-person report about a terrorist bombing with a first-person "memory" that it retained. Through a simple computerized misfire, a supercomputer accidentally put itself in the role of a terrorist. We're pretty sure that was the plot to WarGames.
In another creepy example, the computer started talking entirely in third person, like a cybernetic version of the Rock (dibs on movie rights). It just didn't know which entity it was supposed to be anymore. DISCERN had developed a faulty sense of self. Hopefully they've already developed some sort of robotic anti-psychotics, or else the University of Texas-Austin scientists are sure going to have egg on their faces when the robots start eating them off.
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"Hi! I am totally a scientist and not a face-stealing robot!"