A somewhat playful question, with possibly serious implications.

Imagine that some sort of artificial sentient organism was developed, whose kind could function in a human society as if they were human beings. Assuming that they would then develop (or acquire) what would be considered, for all intents and purposes, a genuine personality. Suppose that this personality would not be immune to (psycho)pathological conditions of any kind.

My question is: what kind of pathological condition (or conditions) would be more likely to appear in a population of such beings? Why?

The question is quite fluid, and I think that this is not an unwelcome property of a philosophical question. It is important to me that those who choose to answer entertain the possibility of reframing it, adding additional conditions and assumptions they find interesting and enlightening.

  • IComputers already have viruses... – Mozibur Ullah May 8 '15 at 23:01
  • The way you frame it "could function in a human society as if they were human beings. [...] a genuine personality. [...] be immune to (psycho)pathological conditions of any kind.", these artificial sentient beings would be likely to develop any problems that humans would develop. It is very likely that they will be considered inferior and discriminated against on account of being artificial and natural, and since they are so close to human, they will likely develop all the psychological problems typical of a persecuted and oppressed minority.

  • In Isaac Asimov's robot series, the robots are equivalent to humans (or smarter), with one exception: They are governed by the 3 laws of robotics. Which are: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. There are robopsychologists, who specialize in dealing with robot psycho-pathologies (to use your term). A significant part of the stories revolve around the robots developing mental pathologies and starting to act erratically because of odd and paradoxal situations which force them to act in conflict with one or more of the 3 laws mentioned above.

  • A more general answer to your question hinges on whether these artificial beings have qualia (feelings and emotions) or not. You say that they develop for all intents and purposes a "genuine" personality. But do they need qualia to have genuine personalities (This is an open question in philosophy of mind)? If yes, then anything that effects their mental well being will count as a psychopathology. If not, meaning they don't need qualia to function exactly as humans (sort of like Star Trek's Cmdr Data), then all that really matters is the functional aspect of their behavior, and all they would need is debuggers (like Mozibur Ullah mentioned in the comment).
  • I would upvote this answer except the third bullet point about qualia is about an undefined thing (qualia), and thus is nonsense. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 9 '15 at 13:53
  • 1
    Qualia is a term used by philosophers of the mind to describe sensations and feelings. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia – Alexander S King May 9 '15 at 14:00
  • Well then, no intelligence can work long without inputs (sensations), and will be aimless with no initiative to do anything if it entirely lacks feelings, so, if the word really is defined that way, still nonsense. Sorry. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 9 '15 at 14:02
  • To better understand qualia, lookup the example of "Mary the Neuroscientist". You will better understand my statement then. – Alexander S King May 9 '15 at 14:07
  • Oh, Wikipedia says it is an argument in favor ot the supernatural (not entirely physical universe). Sorry, that is REALLY nonsense. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 9 '15 at 14:09

I don't think is a philosophical question; but speculation whose proper place is speculative fiction; but given the question is playful...

And assuming that artificial minds are possible, which is a big assumption, not-withstanding the accelerating pace of technology; one needs to consider I think the root possibilities of why psychological problems develop; to do this it helps to go along I think of a philosophy that has helped minds that do really exist - I'm going to go with Buddhism and it's theorisation of dukkho or suffering.

Suffering has four causes - birth, illness, age, dying; in a word, mortality.

The question then are artificial minds mortal?

Suppose now (another big assumption) that artificial minds have the possibilities which are inherent to software in theory; of not deteriorating; of being copyable; of subsisting in silicon; this means that they are on effect immortal; so not being mortal they won't suffer from dukkho.

(It maybe that this isn't the case; that to copy them in effect produces a new artificial mind; that they might be subject to deterioration simply by the nature of how they came into being - but all this is bare speculation).



what kind of pathological condition (or conditions) would be more likely to appear in a population of such beings?

Consider that different sub-populations of humans have different likelyhoods for various psychological problems. This means it depends not only on the general kind of being, but on details (that we know little about, except that they're details). You don't specify the general kind of being, so already at that point the question has no clear answer, except speculation that e.g. various constraints might given them a bad time, but if it had been possible to specify the general kind we would still probably have had to consider the details of a given being in order to answer the question for that being – just as with humans, apes, dogs, or whatever kind.

  • I had stated explicitly that additional assumptions could (and should) be added by those who choose to answer the question. This remark was edited out by someone else, but I've put it back on. – André Souza Lemos May 9 '15 at 14:12
  • @AndréSouzaLemos: OK, I think it's likely that articifical beings who are not designed to be like humans, will be different. I.e. I think that there's not necessarily an evolutionary convergence to the human form of mind. And thus, such beings might have an entirely different sense of beauty, or even mostly lacking one. But it's all speculation, likelihoods. I wouldn't bet on it! ;-) – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 9 '15 at 15:51

I'll divide my own answer in three sections.

What is it to be "human" (what is it to be "somebody") is obviously a philosophical question, but it is first of all a question that has an existential urgence for any living being whose mind finds itself entangled in self-referential thoughts that they can't control. This is a quality that can, in principle, be artificially (as in technically, by virtue of τέχνη) produced in a physical body. The success of such project has to do with technological sophistication, but mostly with philosophical creativity, as was the case with the invention of the computer. Of course, to talk about it now, as if something so distant from our current experience had already been acomplished, can only be a hypothetical exercise.

The question could be reframed by assuming that, in a way, all sentient minds are by necessity "artificial", in that they are accidents, or singularities, not belonging to any natural genus by virtue of that quality. The awareness - or lack thereof - of this frail condition would be the predisposing condition of disease ("dis-ease"). In that sense, disease is the normal human condition, as has already been defended by many, if not most, philosophers. I'll tentatively postulate here that a greater awareness predisposes to depression; smaller or absent, to psychosis; inadequate understanding, to neurosis; misplaced, to sociopathy.

Inevitably, the distribution of mental disease in a human population is a historical process. As with any complex system, it is extremely sensible to initial conditions. Local equilibria can be reached, but in the grand scheme of things, these are bound to be ephemeral. We may be living one of those moments of great instability. The concept of an "artificial" intelligence (as the one of an "extraterrestrial" intelligence) could be read as an attempt to normalize what is foreign to our present equilibrium. A futile attempt, if you ask me.

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