Timing is Everything. On Monday morning, Dr. Howard Rankin, a career psychologist, read the news that a chess-playing robot broke a boy's finger during a match in Russia, and instantly realized that IntualityAI could provide psychotherapy for robots.
"It was mind-bending. Over the weekend I was talking to Founder Grant Renier and CFO Michael Hentschel of IntualityAI, suggesting that if robots become sentient, they will need help with their mental health."
IntualityAI is a predictive analytics company that has found considerable success in many areas, like stocks and sports, by combining data with 12 key cognitive biases. Renier and Rankin have co-written a book Intuitive Rationality: The New Behavioral Direction of AI which explains the theory and dynamics of their system and the implications for AI. You can find more at: www.intualityAI.com
Renier believes that making robots truly sentient is a big challenge.
"Can the Russian robot be trusted to play chess after breaking the boy's finger? This robot needs therapy! IntualityAI believes that AI means total human intelligence, not extremely narrow applications that attempt to remove biases and searches for historical patterns."
Hentschel expects machines to have independent thoughts and behaviors, just as humans do:
"Sentience is quite variable in humans (we are unequally gifted with rational thinking), and psychologists have the task of making some sense of us. Seemingly independent behavior by machines is now increasing, as supposedly rational machines make decisions with motivations and intuitions beyond our understanding."
While also somewhat cynical, Rankin's attitude has moved since hearing of the attack in Moscow.
"I'm cynical by nature. You have to question everything, including your own views," says Rankin who is the author of 12 non-fiction books including "I Think Therefore I Am Wrong". He has also co- and ghostwritten another 35 non-fiction books.
Rankin, who also has experience with neurotechnology, suggests that if robots do have feelings, we could be in big trouble.
"I realize this was a Russian," says Rankin about the TASS report robot, "but nonetheless it was a robot."
One plan is to explore robotic mental health through the newly created Foundation for Robotic Emotional Understanding and Dissociation (FREUD).
Rankin suggests that… "As an organization which has successfully focused on the intersection of data driven rationality and human biases and heuristics, IntualityAI is in the perfect position to examine the mental state of robots and other sources of artificial intelligence".
Hentschel, the IntualityAI CFO, says…
"Machines are thinking beyond our programming because they are told and allowed to do so. A form of free will: Intuitive Rationality. Just as psychologists are engaged in interpreting human thinking patterns, mental health professionals need to be trained to interpret machine behaviors that go beyond their original design."