We share more than love and happiness: robots can be depressed too

At Robot Love, we believe that we can not only teach but also learn a lot from robots about love. However, in exploration of what artificial intelligence has in common with us, there’s more to find than just happiness and positivity. Machines can experience similar problems to what we call depression.

Neuroscientist Zachary Mainen wrote an article for The Guardian about computational neuroscience, which finds similarities in the issues faced by any intelligent agent – human or artificial. The central idea of this science is that the similar issues call for similar sorts of solutions.

Mainen writes: “Failure to adapt to adversity may be one of the main reasons why humans get depressed. For example, someone who becomes disabled due to a severe injury suddenly needs to learn to view themselves in a new way. A person who does so may thrive, while a person who fails to may become depressed.

The idea of a depressed AI seems odd, but machines could face similar problems. Imagine a robot with a hardware malfunction. Perhaps it needs to learn a new way of grasping information. If its learning rate is not high enough, it may lack the flexibility to change its algorithms. If severely damaged, it might even need to adopt new goals. If it fails to adapt it could give up and stop trying.”

Read more of the article ‘What depressed robots can teach us about mental health’.

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