In a world where artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly advanced, we have grown accustom to advanced technology, which alleviates us from driving cars, texting and completing daily chores. But have we thought about the other human functions a robot will be able to grasp?
This is exactly what neuroscientist, Zachary Mainen has questioned – if a computer will be able to think like a human, will it also suffer from the same mental health issues we face today?
Mainen is a researcher at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Portugal and noted his query at the Canonical Computations in Brains and Machines conference in New York, last month. He also presented his research on serotonin, a neurotransmitter that sends messages to the brain. Serotonin is closely linked to depression, which is found in over 300 million people worldwide. According to Mainen, research on serotonin has shown the large role it plays in the brain’s ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations.
“People think of serotonin as related to happiness, but serotonin neurons appear to send a message that is not good or bad, but more ‘oops’ or surprise,” Mainen told Science after his presentation. “It seems to be especially important in breaking or suppressing outdated beliefs.”
What Mainen believes, is that depression may be needed for the brains ability to adapt to certain situations. As an example, if someone becomes depressed after sustaining a major disability, drugs such as selective serotonin repute inhibitors (SSRIs) that are able to relieve depression symptoms by fostering brain plasticity.
“Artificial intelligences may need to have some sort of control mechanism built into them that functions similar to the way serotonin works in the human brain, says Mainen. This mechanism would allow the machines to adapt to new situations quickly, but it could also result in the entrenchment of certain thought patterns and result in depression in the machines as well.”