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The First Ever AI Psychopath: Norman

The First Ever AI Psychopath: Norman

AdminJune 7, 20182min251

With the ever-growing and rapidly-evolving technology we have today, a lot of revolutionary inventions have emerged and one of them is artificial intelligence. We can basically see it in most of our modern gadgets such as mobile phones, smartwatches, drones, self-driving cars, speakers, SIRI, and many others. But what happens if something, however remotely trivial or small, goes wrong?

The researchers at MIT Media Lab sounded a little bit scared of their latest invention: a neural network called “Norman”, whom they claim is showing thought processes that are closest to “psychopathic” than any other AI before it. Part of its introduction to the public was staged as an April Fool’s prank on the lab’s official site, on which they claimed that the AI Norman’s thought processes became permanently deranged by constant exposure to the darkest corners of Reddit. While that diagnosis may have been intentionally exaggerated, the part about Norman’s incredibly morbid point of view is terrifyingly real.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by human beings and other animals. Artificial intelligence can also be understood as an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of smart machines that work and reacts like humans. Some of them are designed for speech recognition, learning, planning, and problem-solving.

Research conducted with regard to artificial intelligence is specialized and highly technical. The main problems of artificial intelligence include programming computers for certain traits such as reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, perception, problem-solving, and ability to manipulate and move objects.

Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

There are people who have negative feelings toward artificial intelligence, but what they don’t know is that it can be quite beneficial. First and most important, it produces jobs. Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence actually helps companies, such as Google and Netflix, to exist. Actually, Google alone employs more than 70,000 employees. Imagine that 70,000 people are able to have jobs that don’t involve mindless tasks; this is just one benefit of artificial intelligence, and that’s just the success it has had with one company. Artificial intelligence helps businesses grow, develop, and allocate new resources to hire more people. Another benefit that artificial intelligence provides is helping reduce the effect of some of the man’s poor decisions. Other benefits are its convenience, efficiency, and its role in promoting faster advancement in healthcare and technology.

Of course, there will also be risks involved in such advanced technologies. First on the list is that phishing scams could get even worse. They could become even more prevalent and effective thanks to AI. Also, hackers could start using AI like financial firms. Fake news and propaganda are only going to get worse. AI could make weapons more destructive.

Meet Norman, the AI Psychopath

A neural network designed by researchers at MIT Media Lab, Normal is disturbingly different from other types of artificial intelligence (AI). Norman is an algorithm that is specifically trained to understand pictures, but, like its namesake Hitchcock’s Norman Bates, it does not have an optimistic view of the world.

Norman’s point of view was incessantly bleak; it saw dead bodies, blood, and destruction in every image. When it was shown different inkblot drawings and asked what it saw, it answered with some really disturbing responses. A drawing that a regular AI would interpret as “a close up of a vase with flowers” would be interpreted by Norman as “a man shot dead”. A drawing that a regular AI would interpret as “a black and white photo of a small bird” would be interpreted by Norman as “a man getting pulled into a dough machine”. Even when it was shown colored inkblot drawings, Norman would still interpret it as “a man shot dead in front of his screaming wife” and “a man killed by a speeding driver”. Norman is quite biased towards death and destruction because that is all that it knows. AI in real-life situations can be equally biased if it was trained on flawed and bad data.

Apparently, Norman isn’t the first AI to focus on dark subject matters.  Earlier experiments such as “Nightmare Machine”, an AI that learned to recognize images that scared people and turned ordinary photos into horrific ones, and “Shelley”, an AI that was fed text from various horror stories and eventually learned to write her own original tales of terror, came before Norman.

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