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Driving Computers Insane

♦ Boffins Develop Method of Driving Computers Insane
(Scientists give computers schizophrenia, to better understand the human brain)

Boffins in America report that they have successfully developed a method for driving computers insane in much the same way as human brains afflicted by schizophrenia. A computer involved in their study became so unhinged that it apparently “claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing.” The research involved meddling with a neural network setup dubbed DISCERN, built by Professor Risto Miikkulainen, a top comp-sci boffin at the University of Texas. Grad student Uli Grasemann assisted in the process of driving the machine bonkers.

“With neural networks, you basically train them by showing them examples, over and over and over again,” says Grasemann. “Every time you show it an example, you say, if this is the input, then this should be your output, and if this is the input, then that should be your output. You do it again and again thousands of times, and every time it adjusts a little bit more towards doing what you want. In the end, if you do it enough, the network has learned.” In the computer pottiness experiments, DISCERN was taught simple stories. But they tinkered with the automated mind in a fashion equivalent to the effects of an excessive release of dopamine in a human brain. In humans this tends to cause people to “hyperlearn” – to make incorrect connections between stored information.

The crazed, burbling computer was evaluated by a top trick-cyclist, Ralph Hoffman of Yale uni, who confirmed that it did indeed have bats in its belfry in much the same way as a human suffering from schizophrenia. “We have so much more control over neural networks than we could ever have over human subjects,” says Grasemann. “The hope is that this kind of modeling will help clinical research.” (Source)

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