AI and Theory of Mind
The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines AI as a “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
The ultimate goal of AI is Artificial general intelligence (AGI) — the hypothetical intelligence that has the capacity to understand or learn as human being.
From psychological perspective, what should AI contain to get closer to the AGI?
AI and Psychology
The relationship between AI and psychology is two-sided. On the one hand, the applications of AI in psychology are enormously large. Let me give just some examples:
- Using AI to automatically score psychological tests
- Chatbot doing therapy — just think about ELIZA.
- Using AI-based applications for diagnosis of disorders
- Career advisors using AI models to better match persons and jobs
On the other hand, you need psychological knowledge to improve and comprehend how should AI look like and behave. AI need to understand behavior and thinking of the person it is interacting with — and do it at a human-like level. This is where theory of mind comes into the play.
Theory of mind
Theory of mind refers to the ability to attribute mental states such as beliefs, desires, goals, and intentions to others, and to understand that these states are different from one’s own.
Normally, people develop Theory of mind around the age of 4–6. Some of them are not able to develop it at all. In this case, we are talking about atypical development of children, such as autism.
What does it mean for AI? AI-based application and product equipped with a theory of mind should be able to recognize you as an independent human being with a mental world of your own, and not something purely mechanistic and inanimate. It could understand that you can have information that the AI doesn’t have and at the same time, AI can have information that you don’t have.
Theory of mind is not yet fully researched topic. Currently, scientists are still working to figure out how human beings understand the emotions and beliefs of others, and why they sometimes incorrectly understand them. Psychology is not developing at the pace required keep the pace with AI. To accelerate the development, it would need more funding and focused research.
AI Theory of mind is still only not fully implemented idea. Despite the enormous growth of the AI field, we have not yet developed Artificial general intelligence. And we are still decades away from reaching AGI. To me, one thing stays clear — to develop true AGI, theory of mind need to be part of it.